In all the understandable controlled angry over destruction the Shankill bomb wrought, both on the day and the weeks after, Anthony McIntyre, then an IRA volunteer, reminds people his organisation was on a war footing at the time, and no amount of hindsight can change the circumstances under which Kelly and Begley planted that ill fated bomb:
Wax ethical and sigh at the terrible loss of life, as we might today, three quarters of we who came through the ranks of the IRA would have been queuing up to plant that bomb: the remainder, waiting to tell their handlers. The pot of gold at the end of the black rainbow – the pernicious figures behind the anti-nationalist killing machine – was a tantalising prospect. I would have been jostling for my place. Misgivings, if any, would have been confined to the suitability of the fuse and runback. And that is how it was. We were part of a guerrilla army primed for something other than social work.
As such, there was every intention to kill on the day. The killing was to be restricted to the UFF leadership believed to be above the premises, not the non-combatants going about their daily business. I suspect the volunteers tasked with entering Frizzells were under instruction to be the last to leave the premises. A dodgy fuse put an end to that. Thomas Begley is dead and Sean Kelly, as far as I know, has yet to tell us what the instructions were. In any event, transferred malice secures little in the way of mitigation.
As a deeply divided society continues to play its endless blame game about the past, seeking truth not for reconciliation but recrimination, the victims of our collective war making have been invited not into any meaningful tribunal or truth recovery process. Instead, their lot has been a worthless ticket that secures them admission to the theatre of smoke and mirrors where, from ringside seats, they can watch the daily dance of deceit that pirouettes around the past. Meanwhile, those behind the lot of it seem to be doing just fine, determined not to be unsettled by discomfiting truths.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty