The father of IRA bomber Thomas Begley has said he would have chained his son to the bed if he had known he was planning to carry out the 1993 attack on Belfast’s Shankill Road.
Begley’s father, Billy, made the statement as outrage erupted over a tribute planned for his son that took place last weekend.
Begley, 22, along with nine Protestant victims, died when the bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely at Frizzell’s fish shop on October 23, 1993. Begley and a second bomber, Sean Kelly, both posing as delivery drivers, carried the bomb into the shop.
Begley was buried with full IRA honors in the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery. A year after his death, he was commemorated with a parade through Ardoyne.
The 25th anniversary of his death was marked at a Milltown commemoration on Saturday, October 27, just four days after an anniversary service was held for the victims in West Kirk Presbyterian Church.
The event was organized by Begley’s friends, said Billy Begley. The family has previously stated they opposed the IRA booming and their son’s role in the attack.
"We have nothing to do with this event on Saturday and prefer to remember our son in our own private way. This week we have just been going to Mass and saying prayers for him. We also prayed for all the innocent people who were killed on that day," said Billy Begley before the tribute.
"We are very sorry for what happened -- it was all wrong. Our family is not like that and if we had known what Thomas was going to do that day, we would have chained him to his bed."
Gina Murray, whose 13-year-old daughter Leanne was killed in the bombing, said the event to honor Thomas Begley was upsetting for the families of the victims.
She said, "I'm not happy about this event at all. It only adds to the distress of this already very difficult week.
"Those behind it have no thought for the commemorations by the families of those who lost their lives.
"We were expecting something to take place on the actual anniversary of the bomb but at least they had the decency not to do anything then.
"They are always hurting us and now they are doing it all over again. We've had no break this week at all and this just tops it off.
"It's as though they are trampling on the graves of all those who were killed," she added.
Victims campaigner Willie Frazer said the commemoration for Begley is "beyond grotesque.”
"Republicans call for equality and respect while they commemorate and glorify Provo terrorists, idolizing and normalizing actions of absolute depravity,” he said.
"Victims who speak out and condemn such commemorations are accused of living in the past, they're told to move on.
"Republicans need [to be] called out on their hypocrisy, their lack of respect and remorse needs [to be] highlighted and scrutinized."
North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey added, "Yet again Republicans seek to glorify a terrorist and terrorism. Let's be clear, there was nothing glorious or brave in what Thomas Begley did. Begley died planting the Shankill bomb, a device which murdered nine innocent people."