Sinn Fein branch calls off bomber commemoration branded ‘deeply offensive’

A Sinn Fein branch commemoration for an IRA bomber from Wexford was called off on Thursday, shortly after Leo Varadkar branded it “deeply offensive” in the Dail.

By Mark Rainey
Friday, 19th February 2021, 1:23 pm
The mangled remains of the London bus blown apart by an IRA bomb in Aldwych, London on February 18, 1996  Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA
The mangled remains of the London bus blown apart by an IRA bomb in Aldwych, London on February 18, 1996 Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA

Edward O’Brien, 21, died when an improvised device he was carrying exploded prematurely on a bus passing through Aldwych in central London in February 1996.

An Irish citizen who happened to be a passenger on the bus at the time, Brendan Woolhead, was one of eight people were injured. The Aldwych explosion occurred just nine days after the devastating blast at Canary Wharf on February 9.

A 25th anniversary commemoration in honour of O’Brien – due to take place online at 7.30pm – had been announced on the Facebook by Sinn Fein councillor Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin.

However, just hours before it was due to begin, Cllr Ó Súilleabháin posted: “The Edward O’Brien online commemoration, which was organised by Ed’s father Miley and supported by Sinn Féin, has been cancelled at the request of family, due to significant online abuse targeting the family.”

In the Dail on Thursday, Leo Varadkar called on Sinn Féin to disassociate itself from the event, to condemn the bomb incident, and for the commemoration to be cancelled, the Irish Times reported.

Mr Varadkar said the O’Brien family did not support the commemoration.

The Fine Gael leader raised the issue when Co Wexford Sinn Féin TD Johnny Mythen asked him a question on another issue.

“It would be remiss of me not to raise my concerns here about the commemoration being organised by Sinn Féin in Wexford, in the Deputy’s constituency, in relation to the Edward O’Brien bus bomb.”

In the aftermath of the Aldwych bomb blast, it was reported that a statement isssued through the O’Brien family in Gorey, Co Wexford expressed their “deep sorrow and sympathy” for those injured, and emphasised their abhorrence of violence and terrorism.

The Independent reported that the family said they wanted no paramilitary involvement “in any way, shape or form” at their son’s funeral.

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