Shankill bomb, not Martin McGuinness, helped bring peace, says victim

Gary Murray lost his 13-year-old sister Leanne in the 1993 IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road

Gary Murray lost his 13-year-old sister Leanne in the 1993 IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road

The Shankill Road bomb played a greater role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland than Martin McGuinness did, according to a man whose sister died in the blast.

Gary Murray, 40, whose 13-year-old sister Leanne was killed in the 1993 IRA bombing, believes that the atrocity – and the Greysteel pub attack a week later – provided the real impetus to bring peace.

Leanne Murray had been on a cross-community trip to America just weeks before she died in the 1993 Shankill Road bombing

Leanne Murray had been on a cross-community trip to America just weeks before she died in the 1993 Shankill Road bombing

Nine Protestant civilians were killed in the Shankill bomb and eight people died as a result of the UFF attack on the Greysteel pub.

“She was a lovely little girl, very calm in life,” Gary said of his sister.

“She enjoyed her netball in school, coming home, arguing with me ... over little silly things about who is doing the dishes for my mum or who is doing the housework. She was a very outgoing person and loved life.”

He added: “Her hair was very long and it took her hours to wash and brush it.”

Leanne had been on cross-community trip to America only six weeks before she died.

“There was one little girl called Roisin from Ligoniel who she became very friendly with. Roisin came down to see my mum before the funeral.”

On the day of the bomb a friend was driving Gary along the Shankill. “All I saw was dust coming over.”

Leanne went shopping with her mum on the Shankill every Saturday. He found his mum but not his sister, so he began digging with his bare hands.

“I couldn’t find her. I just started screaming in the middle of the street.”

She died instantly. “It was like a light turning out”.

Leanne had gone to buy whelks in the fish shop where the bomb went off.

“It was hard watching my mum. All she did was to sit on the sofa and cry for months.”

Gary has recently been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, which means he barely sleeps due to flashbacks and nightmares.

His hopes for the future are “total peace for my grandkids”.

But he is somewhat sceptical about the praise heaped on Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness after his recent death.

“He was a terrorist so I do believe a leopard doesn’t change his spots, but he did try to help in his own way.”

He added: “I don’t think he really changed because he didn’t give other victims of IRA terrorism closure.”

He is not convinced that Mr McGuinness, a former leading IRA figure, was the only person who could have led the terror group to peace.

“Once the Shankill bomb happened, that is when all the politicians started getting together... John Major and all started talking about peace.

“So I believe in my heart of hearts, with the bomb happening and then Greysteel [shootings] – I believe in my heart of hearts that is what brought about peace in this country.”