Some seek revenge after IRA bomb explosion



BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP)—Some faces were hardened with hate, others streaked with tears as they looked Sunday at the spot where an IRA bomb exploded without warning, killing 10 people and wounding 58.

The Irish Republican Army took responsibility for the attack, which it said was aimed at a meeting of commanders of the Ulster Defense Association.

Both groups are outlawed. The IRA, which draws its support from Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, wants to unify the province with the republic of Ireland, while the Protestant-based UDA wants it to remain part of the United Kingdom. The UDA has killed 15 Catholics this year.

The bomb exploded in a fish shop on the Shankill Road at midday Saturday when the street was crowded with shoppers. It was the deadliest terrorist incident in Northern Ireland in six years.

Police said Sunday they had arrested an unspecified number of people and were interrogating them about the bombing.

Prime Minister John Major, in Cyprus for a Commonwealth summit, said on Sunday the IRA could never achieve its goals by violence.

‘‘The sort of atrocity we saw yesterday will isolate and marginalize the IRA increasingly,’‘ he said in a BBC interview. ‘‘People cannot bomb their way to a political objective, it simply cannot be done.’‘

For the Protestants of the pro-British district, the bombing has underscored their belief that you can’t talk with the IRA, only hope to destroy them.

‘‘How many young lads are going to join up to the UDA now?’‘ asked Alfie McCrory, 35, a local resident.

The shop’s 63-year-old owner, John Frizzell, was killed, along with his 29-year-old daughter, Sharon McBride. A 7-year-old girl and her mother and father were killed by the explosion.

One of the bombers, 23-year-old Thomas Begley, also died in the blast. His comrade, identified in hospital records as Sean Kelly, was under police guard in critical condition.

Belfast city councilor Joe Coggle, who lives near Shankill Road, said local residents helped the injured IRA bomber because they did not know who he was.

‘‘We gave him our full sympathy. If we’d known, I hate to say it, but I don’t think he’d have gotten out alive,’‘ said Coggle, whose son is in prison for loyalist paramilitary activities.

But at the West Kirk Presbyterian Church, near the bombing, the Rev. Peter Gamble told worshippers that people should not think of retaliation but ‘‘think of your own wrongdoings.’‘

In a statement to Belfast media the IRA said it ‘‘regretted’‘ the bombing, and said it had intended to warn passers-by but the bomb exploded prematurely.

Gerry Adams, president of the IRA-supporting Sinn Fein party, told The Associated Press:

‘‘What happened yesterday was a terrible tragedy. No matter how well intentioned the IRA people might have been, they need to be mindful of the potential for such tragedy.’‘

‘‘We have an IRA volunteer dead, and those women, children and other innocent people dead also. My sympathy is there with those families.’‘

But he said the attack underscored the need for a ‘‘peace process’‘ involving his party, which gets about a third of Catholic votes in the British-ruled province.

Unionist politicians threatened late Sunday to withdraw from all contact with colleagues in the Social Democratic and Labor Party unless their leader, John Hume, quits talking with Sinn Fein.

Hume and Adams have spent five months trying to agree on a formula for peace talks involving the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland parties.

But the Irish government, reacting to the bombing, canceled plans to meet Wednesday with British officials in Belfast as part of the two countries’ Anglo-Irish Agreement on Northern Ireland.

‘‘How can you take seriously statements by Gerry Adams that he’s trying to start a peace process when the IRA is going out and murdering shoppers?’‘ said Dick Spring, Ireland’s deputy prime minister.

‘‘The sight of Gerry Adams weeping his crocodile tears is enough to make the people of this city go mad,’‘ said Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist lord mayor of Belfast. ‘‘John Hume must stop all contact with this blackguard. We are sick of other people trying to give credibility to the likes of Adams and the IRA.’‘

But some in the province urged both sides to consider peace.

One bundle of blossoms laid along the sidewalks leading up to the blown-out shop read: ‘‘How much longer? Please give peace a chance—from the Catholic people of Northern Ireland who do care.’‘