Shankill bomb: Pain is as raw as ever, says brother of 13-year-old victim

A man whose 13-year-old sister was killed instantly by the Shankill bomb says the 25 years that have since passed since the atrocity have not in any way lessened the pain of losing her.

Leanne Murray never really left her mother’s side and only did so on this occasion for a few minutes to buy whelks in the fish shop.

Gina Murray (mother of Leanne Murray killed in Shankill bomb) with her son Gary.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Gina Murray (mother of Leanne Murray killed in Shankill bomb) with her son Gary.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Asked if this year’s anniversary was in any way going to be different, her brother replied: “I know it is a big anniversary but not really. It is still going to feel the exact same.”

The family has had to steel itself in the run-up to the 25th year since the atrocity, he says.

“Leanne would have been 37 now,” he said. “She could have been anything she wanted to be. She was a smart little girl.

“She wanted to be either a nurse or a primary school teacher because she wanted to look after kids.”

Leanne Murray, 13, who was killed in the Shankill bomb in Belfast.'Picture By Arthur Allsion.

Leanne Murray, 13, who was killed in the Shankill bomb in Belfast.'Picture By Arthur Allsion.

The mood generally among the families after 25 years is “sadness” he says.

“It is pretty much as raw as ever it was.”

Leanne’s birthday and his wife’s both fall on the same day, September 25.

His sister had been on cross-community trip to America only six weeks before her death, having made good friends with a girl called Roisin from Ligoniel.

On the day of the bomb a friend was driving Gary along the Shankill. Leanne went shopping with her mum on the Shankill every Saturday so he went looking for them when he saw the smoke. He found his mum but not his sister, so he began digging with his bare hands in the rubble. “I couldn’t find her. I just started screaming in the middle of the street,”

She had died instantly.

Today, the 25th anniversary, he will attend the commemorative church service with his mum, Gina, and the other families

His mum is doing her best to cope. She sat on her sofa and cried for months afterwards, later being diagnosed with PTSD.

“It is hard for her. This time of the year she usually just shrivels up and gets quite deep in her thoughts.”

Last night Gary took part in a commemorative walk along the Shankill that took in the sites of five bomb attacks on the road; the Balmoral Showrooms bombing (at Shankill Leisure Centre), the Bayardo Memorial, the Shankill Bomb site, the Four Step Inn and the Mountainview Tavern.

“We are starting at the bottom and we are walking up the whole Shankill going up all the different bomb sites.”

He will also attend a play about his mum, Gina’s life, at the Spectrum Centre, entitled ‘What if?’

The script looks at her life both before and after the bomb.

He did get a report on the bombing from the Historical Enquiries Team which he thought was very helpful at the time, although he now wishes he had asked them to address who sanctioned and made the bomb.

Sean Kelly served seven years before he qualified for early release under the Belfast Agreement. He has since been arrested - and released without charge repeatedly - as part of a number of terrorist related investigations.

Asked if he thinks he will ever have closure for the loss of his sister, Gary replied “No”.

“We will never get closure from it. Not unless Sean Kelly is put in jail.”

Gary has not been impressed with recent government proposals to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, based on the Stormont House Agreement.

“Most of the proposals I totally disagree with. I think it is all just to keep victims quiet.”

“I read through these proposals and I don’t think they are very good. I think the government is putting victims into one corner and forgetting about them.”

“I would like to see more done, more places like Wave [Trauma Centre] set up - places that would actually help victims.”

“It is very helpful. I come here and everyone else is basically the same. Everyone has their story to tell.

“It is a place where people with similar experiences can meet and relax together as well as various programmes being on offer.”