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Statement on the 50th anniversary of the Abercorn bomb

Date: Wed 9th Mar, 2022 | 14:15

"As we prepare further along the Decade of Centenaries it is important that it does not absolve us from recording and learning from events of 50 years ago. These are events that should not have to wait a centenary for reflection. One of those events that has been described for us this week very clearly and movingly, was the placing of a bomb in a restaurant in the centre of Belfast, the Abercorn, a restaurant used by people of all backgrounds, particularly by the young. 

Yesterday, we marked International Women’s Day and in this context it is worth noting that the victims of this bombing were mostly young women enjoying cups of coffee in a packed restaurant on a Saturday afternoon on a busy shopping day.  It is important that we face the depths to which conflict can bring human beings; that such devastation could be brought to a crowded civilian place with so many young people and the fact that it is not beyond suspicion that young people were used to place this bomb - among their own generation. 

It is important to be reminded that this is a level not only to which people can sink, but one that is using others as instruments.  

The Abercorn bomb unleashed of course a whole series of atrocities – they are known to us, the list of death and mayhem from that year 1972 is distressing to recall.  What is most important is that we take this exemplar event and resolve that it will not be forgotten. It will endure in our collective memory as a warning to all people of all ages, of all backgrounds, and the need for us all to commit to such conditions of living together in peace as will ensure such an atrocity will never be repeated.

To all those who lost loved ones and who were injured, whose lives were changed forever, I send my thoughts on this important week."