Northern Ireland news

Gerry Adams 'shocked and horrified' at Shankill bombing

The 1993 Shankill bombing
Éamon Phoenix

THE Shankill bombing was a "revenge vendetta by the Ardoyne brigade of the IRA", which left Gerry Adams "shocked and horrified", newly released state papers claim.

The details are revealed in previously confidential files of talks between Cardinal Cahal Daly and a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister weeks after the Shankill Road atrocity.

Nine people and an IRA bomber were killed in the attack after a bomb exploded in Frizzell's fish shop on October 23 1993.

The IRA said it was targeting a UDA leadership meeting due to be held above the shop when the device exploded prematurely.

During a meeting with NIO minister Robert Atkins on November 16, 1993 the Catholic Church leader said he believed the Sinn Féin leader "could deliver the Provisional IRA."

The documents are among hundreds of declassified government files released in Belfast today.

From the start of the meeting Mr Atkins’ private secretary, Patricia Elliott noted, "It was clear that Cardinal Daly had his own agenda" after he asked Mr Atkins to pass on his "congratulations" to John Major for a courageous speech at the Guildhall the previous evening in which he said republicans could enter dialogue if the IRA ended violence.

The cardinal said the Shankill bomb had "shocked and horrified Gerry Adams"

The cardinal stressed that if reactions to Major’s statement from Sinn Féin were negative, they would be seen to be carrying on "a very irrational campaign" and would lose support.

"He confirmed his intelligence that Gerry Adams could deliver the PIRA (including Martin McGuinness) and, if this did not happen for any reason, then he (Adams) would be finished," it was noted.

The cardinal told Atkins that the Shankill bomb had "shocked and horrified Gerry Adams". He further claimed the Sinn Féin leader had not been aware the attack was being planned as "each (IRA) brigade has its own autonomy".

It was noted that the cardinal’s intelligence suggested that this had been "a revenge vendetta by the Ardoyne brigade".

Among other declassified files released today are:

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