Shock at SF’s ‘apology offer’ for blowing up Manchester

Neil Tattersal pictured with his daughter Sophie
Neil Tattersal pictured with his daughter Sophie

A victim of IRA bombings in Manchester has slammed Sinn Fein for suggesting that an apology may be forthcoming over the damage inflicted on the city – but that the UK government should also apologise to republicans.

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the huge 1996 IRA bomb which injured 220 people and destroyed Manchester city centre, causing £700m of damage.

Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan was quoted by the BBC as saying that an apology may be forthcoming.

He said: “We need to get into a process where every party and every antagonist becomes accountable for their actions during the conflict.

“That may mean an apology,” he added.

“But if the British government are playing hardball and the Republicans are seen to be moving forward, it doesn’t help the process.”

Neil Tattersall suffered a serious spinal injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from an earlier IRA bomb attack in the city on 3 December 1992, which injured 65 .

He told the News Letter he was “taken aback” by the MLA’s comments.

“We did not ask to be blown up,” he said. “We were just innocent civilians going about our business in Manchester. We were not a part of anything. Sinn Fein should be apologising to us victims.”

He also condemned the level of support available to victims.

He said: “If you were in a car accident in Great Britain you get proper treatment. But if you say you were in a terrorist attack and need help, they look at you as though you have a square head.”

Mr Tattersall said it was “absolutely disgraceful” that Manchester City Council refused to hold a civic ceremony yesterday to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1996 bomb.

BBC Manchester and the Manchester Evening News organised a series of events instead, including a church service, he said.

The council said it “does not forget” the 1996 bomb but that the city has “moved on”.

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson said that the republican narrative surrounding the 1996 Docklands and Manchester bombings has to be challenged. The PIRA’s strategy was so neutralised by informers in their ranks at that time they had to find a “political” way out, he said.