General election: Shankill IRA bomb victim ‘disgusted’ at Sinn Fein using Sean Kelly as canvasser
A man whose 13-year-old sister was killed in the Shankill bomb says his family have been deeply hurt by one of her killers canvassing for Sinn Fein for the forthcoming election.
Gary Murray was speaking after it was revealed that Sean Kelly, who was convicted of planting the Shankill bomb in 1993, has been canvassing for Sinn Fein candidate John Finucane in his bid to win the North Belfast Westminster seat.
The 1993 explosion killed fellow bomber Thomas Begley as well as nine others, injuring almost 60 other people.
Kelly received a total of nine life sentences but was released early in 2000, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is sending out the wrong message,” said Mr Murray, whose sister Leanne was killed in the bomb attack.
“That they can have a multiple murderer out canvassing for them just up the road from where it actually happened, rapping doors not even a mile away. In my eyes it is really disgusting.”
When he first heard he felt “gutted”.
“My wee mum has not left the house in a couple of days because of it. She is getting sick of seeing Sean Kelly’s face in the media and papers. In my eyes how can they do that? It is rotten.”
Leanne would have been 38 in September, three years younger than him.
“I think about Leanne every day of my life. I was 15 when it happened. She was 13.
“We were very close, even though we fought like cat and dog. But I miss her so much, every day.”
He was quickly on the scene after the bomb blast and unsuccessfully tried to dig her out with his bare hands.
“I am on medication for my PTSD to try and help me sleep, because of the nightmares.”
He feels that the SDLP are effectively endorsing Kelly’s role in canvassing in north Belfast, having withdrawn their candidate from the area in a de facto pact.
“In my eyes they are wrong to do that – what is that telling IRA victims?”
An SDLP spokesman responded it has “unilaterally withdrawn from three constituencies to maximise the pro-Remain vote” in the election next month. “We have not and will not seek the support of paramilitary organisations or connected individuals to shore up electoral support.”
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald rejected DUP criticism on the issue, accusing the party of forming electoral alliances with loyalist paramilitaries.
“I won’t take a homily from the DUP around Sean Kelly or anybody else,” she said.