Northern Ireland news

Jamie Bryson and Alan McBride clash over Shankill bomber banner

Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell were killed in the 1993 Shankill bombing. File picture by Aidan O'Reilly, Pacemaker

LOYALIST Jamie Bryson and victims campaigner Alan McBride have clashed online over a banner about Shankill bomber Sean Kelly.

The banner, which shows Kelly's face, asks if the Sinn Féin election worker will be canvassing for SDLP candidate Claire Hanna after the republican party decided not to stand in the South Belfast constituency.

The SDLP has already said that Kelly will not form part of any of its canvassing teams.

Mr McBride, whose wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell were among those killed in the 1993 Shankill bombing, said Mr Bryson had blocked him from his Facebook page after he criticised his support for the banner erected at Oak Street in the city.

Another banner has since been seen on Bells Bridge roundabout in south Belfast.

"Think about it, how offensive would it be for the Shankill families to have to see the face of the person who murdered their loved ones, especially in the run up to Christmas," Mr McBride wrote on Facebook.

"This election has sunk to new low when victims are used in such a callous way. Shame on those who put up this poster and shame on Bryson for supporting it."

Mr McBride later added that he had wanted to have a public debate with Mr Bryson but could not find a venue "or someone to facilitate (it)".

Mr Bryson responded on Facebook by saying he had the "utmost respect for Alan’s views as a victim" but these were "not by default superior to the views of other victims, many of whom take a far different view to Alan on many issues".

He described Mr McBride, the co-ordinator of the Wave trauma centre in Belfast, as an "aggressive political activist for the Alliance party" and claimed he was "seeking to demean anyone who does not agree with him".

Mr Bryson also said he is willing to have a public debate with Mr McBride "at any time".

Mr McBride told The Irish News last night that the clash had "nothing to do" with his membership of the Alliance Party.

“This is about the inappropriate use of the Shankill bomb to score political points and try and discredit the SDLP,” he said.

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