A Shankill Road man whose sister was killed in the 1993 IRA bomb attack on the road says he still suffers daily flashbacks about her death – but is looking forward to the unveiling of a memorial quilt bearing a patch in her name.
Leanne Murray was one of nine Protestant civilians who were killed in the attack. One of the IRA bombers also died.
This Sunday her mother Gina and brother Gary will travel to Fivemiletown Methodist Church for South East Fermanagh Foundation’s (SEFF) annual service, the theme of which this year is ‘Children of the Troubles’. A new memorial quilt will be dedicated, featuring a patch in Leanne’s memory.
“I am looking forward to going down – we are lucky enough to be one of the families to be honoured on the quilt,” Gary said.
The event is tied to such painful memories, especially as Leanne’s birthday and his wife’s both fell on the same day – yesterday, September 25.
“She would have been 37,” he said. “So the quilt unveiling will happen between her birthday and the anniversary of her death, which is October 23. It is perfect timing.
“It means a lot that someone has thought about her and wanted her name to be on the quilt. It means quite a lot to me and her mum.”
To mark her birthday he will visit his mother and leaf through old family albums.
Gary met SEFF at a victims’ meeting in Portadown almost two years ago. “They asked me would we like Leeanne’s name on the quilt and I thought it was a nice gesture.
“It is special, it touches me very much because she was a child ... it is very personal when there is one patch on this quilt dedicated to her. My mum was ecstatic when I told her.”
He added: “My fondest memories of Leanne were me and her fighting all the time. I was 15 and she was 13.
“We fought over everything stupid, who was doing the dishes or who was hoovering up before mum got in. Just the things brothers and sisters do.”
But he was also the big brother that came to her rescue if she needed protection.
“Oh definitely. 100%. She knew I cared all right.
“She was brilliant, a quiet girl. She really never left my mum’s side to be honest.”
The cruel irony was that she only left her mother’s side for a few seconds to go into the fish shop which was targeted.
“She wanted to be a nurse. She would have been brilliant because she was really brilliant at baby-sitting children.
“She had very long hair. It took her up to three hours to wash and dry it.”
As soon as Gary heard she was caught up in the bomb he raced to the scene and began digging with his bare hands. He was just 15. His mother identified her later at the hospital.
Nine months ago he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
“I am getting help but it is not really getting any easier. I don’t sleep because I get things replaying over and over again in my head from that day.
“The bomb ended up almost destroying us at one point. Watching my mum crying every day and night for years. But we fought back hard.”
In October his mother suffered a heart attack, he believes, as a result of the stress of hearing claims that an undercover agent had been involved in the bombing. However, he does not believe there was any evidence to substantiate the claim.
He does not believe he will ever be able to forgive the bombers, but this memorial service on Sunday will be a positive experience.
“It will be lovely to go down there and see the quilt. We will be meeting other families who have all been on the same journey.”