The heartbroken mother of a young Shankill bomb victim has made an emotional plea for republicans not to hero-worship her killer.
Gina Murray spoke of her “total disgust” that a rally is being held in Ardoyne to commemorate IRA bomber Thomas Begley, who also died in the 1993 atrocity that claimed nine innocent lives.
Mrs Murray said that by unveiling a plaque in tribute to the “man who murdered our wee girl and eight others”, those involved were increasing the hurt felt by the victims’ families ahead of the October 23 anniversary.
Leanne Murray, 13, had been shopping with her mum when Begley carried his bomb into Frizzell’s fish shop. When it exploded prematurely, the building collapsed onto the Shankill Road burying most of the victims in the rubble.
Leanne – who died on her way to hospital – would have been 33 had she survived.
“I am disgusted about this planned commemoration to Begley,” her mum said.
“It shouldn’t be allowed to go ahead. He murdered nine innocent victims. When I heard about it I was angry. Now I am disgusted. But I don’t think there is any way I can get this stopped, but I would like to,” Mrs Murray added.
“If I was to give any message to the family of Thomas Begley it is to stop it. This brings everything back to me and it is like they are making him into a hero.”
Mrs Murray said she and her daughter had “unusually” decided to separate when Leanne headed into Frizzell’s fish shop for a tub of whelks.
“She said she would see me in two minutes,” she said. “I had gone into the grocery shop when I heard the bang. I just ran to find Leanne, but I couldn’t find her because she was buried in the rubble. They had to dig her out. I think about it [the bomb] every day of my life. I close my eyes and I can see it, and hear it and smell it.”
Her son Gary, 35, said news of the commemoration to bomber Begley had “had a major impact on me and my mum”.
“Begley is not a hero for killing two children and seven other people,” he said. “He is a mass murderer and not a hero.”
Mrs Murray, who moved with her son from their home at Silvio Street to north Down a year after the bomb, had known considerable sorrow prior to October 1993.
Her husband died from a stroke eight months before the blast, she had lost a five-year-old son in a road accident and had lost a baby boy in a stillbirth.
”I am in contact with others who were affected in the bomb and they are finding this planned commemoration very difficult too. Those people don’t understand that. But will the Begley family reconsider? I haven’t got over it.
“I learned to cope with the situation. But when situations like this come up it knocks you back.”
Mrs Murray says her “life stopped” when Leanne was murdered.
“Her funeral went over my head,” she said. “It was a total blur. I couldn’t have coped any other way. I was trying to cope with my 15-year-old son Gary who was devastated, before trying to cope with it myself which was very hard and very difficult.
“A year after it happened I had to get away from Belfast as I couldn’t cope. I got counselling then and I am still attending counselling. But this being brought up again throws it all into your face.
“I feel as if I took two steps forward and then two back.”
She described her daughter as “happy-go-lucky and full of life”.
“She had just gone into second year in Girls Model and was a happy girl,” she said.
“She had been on a cross-community project to Chicago and wanted to go back there.
“Now Leanne would be 33 and it would be a different world if she was here. I miss her very much.”