Today marks the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Friday” in Belfast, in which nine people were killed in a series of bombings.
During the afternoon of Friday, July 21, 2972, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted and exploded 22 bombs which, in the space of 75 minutes, killed 9 people and seriously injured approximately 130 others.
In addition to the bombs, there were numerous hoax warnings about other explosive devices which added to the chaos in the streets that afternoon.
Many people believe these hoax warnings were deliberately used to reduce the effectiveness of the security forces in dealing with the real bombs.
The first bombs went off at 2.10 pm at Smithfield and continued for over an hour. Two soldiers – 19-year-old Stephen Cooper and Philip Price, 27, and four Ulsterbus workers – 15-year-old William Crothers, 18-year-old William Irvine, Thomas Killops, 39, and 45-year-old Jackie Gibson – were all killed at the bus station.
Stephen Parker, 14, Brigid Murray, 65, and mother-of-seven Margaret O’Hare, 34, were killed in the bomb close to the shops on the Cavehill Road in the north of the city.
The Provisional IRA issued an apology in 2002 and said it had not been its intention to kill or injure “non combatants”.
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In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said, “Today, we remember the victims, the survivors, and all those affected by the callous events of Bloody Friday. It is a day of reflection for the families, survivors and wider communities that bear the scars of that loss. It should be a day of reflection for all who care about the future of this island.
“These murders can never be justified, and we must all confront the pain and suffering that they caused. For the people who were on the streets of Belfast that day, the impact and horror of what they witnessed will never fade from memory.”
An event to remember those who lost their lives and those affected by the events was held at Belfast City Hall today.
Guests were also given a sprig of rosemary, which signifies remembrance, placed on a piece of linen to represent the city of Belfast.