Dignified Shankill bomb commemoration with focus on brighter future

Pupils from schools in the Shankill area played a leading role in the bomb anniversary commemorations
Pupils from schools in the Shankill area played a leading role in the bomb anniversary commemorations

The News Letter’s Mark Rainey reflects on today’s Shankill bomb anniversary service – a poignant tribute that looked to the future as well as mourning those lost 25 years ago this week.

A quarter of a century has passed since the IRA bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop but the emotions are still raw on the Shankill Road.

As the community gathered around West Kirk Presbyterian Church the ongoing sense of grief at the loss of nine innocent citizens was palpable.

The dignified commemoration naturally focused on the grievous wrongs of the past and the hurt inflicted by a neighbouring community, but the hope for a brighter future and the innocence of the area’s young people – largely untouched by the violence of the previous generations – shone through.

Politicians and community representatives from both sides of our still divided society stood shoulder to shoulder and contemplated the devastating consequences of sectarian conflict.

A combined choir of local primary school children reduced many in the church to tears with a beautiful rendition of the hymn King of Kings and Zoe McBride – who lost her mum Sharon in the 1993 bomb – read Psalm 116.

And, his voice quivering with emotion, Rev David Clawson read aloud the names of the dead.

Some have suggested this year should be the last public commemoration. That seems unlikely but, whatever happens, the community has done the Shankill victims proud.