Alan McBride still carries thoughts of his wife Sharon in his head when he gets up in the morning and when he goes to bed at night, he says, 25 years after she died in the Shankill bomb attack.
Approaching the 25th anniversary of the atrocity it was “almost as though people expect you to be feeling a certain way”, he told the News Letter.
“My life is good, I enjoy life. I have certainly rediscovered my zest for just going out and having a good time.
“For me I have been able to let go of the anger and let go of the pain of that day. I haven’t ever forgiven the people that carried out the bombing, obviously... They don’t come into my thinking at all.”
A former butcher, he now works as centre manager for the Wave Trauma Centre in Belfast, for survivors of the Troubles. Initially he began to campaign against Gerry Adams for carrying the coffin of bomber Thomas Begley, but after doing a lot of “processing”, writing, reflecting and speaking, he now acknowledges that Adams was a key player in taking republicans away from violence.
He still thinks of his wife Sharon “every single day”. “She is in my head getting up in the morning, going to bed at night.”
Moving forward he would like to see a general memorial for all families who lost loved ones – regardless of their background.
He supports the current statutory definition of a victim, which makes no distinction between terrorists and victims, reasoning that there is “no moral equivalence” and law simply aims to provide support for all grieving families.
There has not been a disproportionate focus on the state in legacy probes to date, he said, but if it turns out there is “a witch hunt” of former security force members under new proposed legacy legislation, he will be “very forward in speaking out against that”.
Going forward, he supports the idea of a cost-effective Irish language act and a reciprocal act to protect interests of unionists and loyalists.
The aim, he said, should be focusing on “doing all in your power to make your neighbour feel welcome and part of this society”.