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Thursday, March 11, 1999 Published at 15:52 GMT


I only want justice says bomb victims' daughter

Michelle Williamson watched news of the bomb on TV

A woman whose parents were blown up in an IRA bomb is campaigning to keep their killer behind bars.

Michelle Williamson: "I will never come to terms with the loss of my mother and father"
Michelle Williamson's mother and father were among nine civilians who died as a result of the explosion in Shankill Road, Belfast, in 1993.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, convicted murderer Sean Kelly could walk free in July next year.

Miss Williamson, now 32, hopes to gain the support - and signatures - of "at least half of Ireland" for her petition to keep Kelly in jail.

[ image: Michelle Williamson handcuffed herself to the gates of the Maze prison]
Michelle Williamson handcuffed herself to the gates of the Maze prison
She has the support of her local MP, Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson, but denies that it is a political campaign.

All she wants, she says, is justice for her parents, George and Gillian Williamson.

"There have been letters in local papers saying that I am holding up the peace process, and that I should learn to get on with my life.

Two of the dead were children

"But I want justice for my mum and dad. Sean Kelly killed nine people, and two of those were children.

"He is a mass murderer, yet by the time his release date comes, he will have served less than a year for each life he took.

"My parents brought me up to know the difference between right and wrong. It is wrong that mass murderers should be able to walk the streets."

[ image: Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams attended the funeral of bomber Thomas Begley]
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams attended the funeral of bomber Thomas Begley
The last time Miss Williamson saw her parents was on the morning of the explosion.

Only the day before they had moved into the new home they had been saving up for, and they were driving into Belfast to buy material for new curtains.

"My dad waited outside in the car, and my mum came into my home and asked me if I wanted to go into Belfast with them. I said no because I was busy.

"She told me 'Cheerio, see you later', but of course, I never did."

The Shankill Road fishmongers Mr and Mrs Williamson were queuing in was below an office used by a prisoners' aid group run by the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

It was also a regular meeting place for paramilitaries and the bomb was intended to kill loyalists terrorist leaders, but the office was empty at the time.

The explosion took the lives of nine shoppers, and one of the terrorists who planted it, Thomas Begley.

"I was hanging up new curtains in my own home when I heard the newsflash about the bomb on the TV.

"I was looking in the crowds to see if I could see my parents. It got later, and I thought my parents were late coming back - and then the door went and I could see it was someone in uniform, and I knew something terrible had happened.

[ image: The judge at Kelly's trial described the bombing as one of the worst outrages of the Troubles]
The judge at Kelly's trial described the bombing as one of the worst outrages of the Troubles
"I went to the hospital, where my dad later died. But they didn't find my mum's body until 10.30pm.

"I went back to the house because I didn't know if she was alive. The lights were on, and I didn't think that it was the neighbours, who had come to make sure everything was OK.

"I rushed in shouting 'Mum, mum, are you there?' I found out later that she was dead."

The petition is not the first action Miss Williamson has taken in protest at the early prisoner releases.

Handcuffed to the gates

When Sean Kelly was allowed out of the Maze to spend Christmas and New Year with his family, she handcuffed herself to the prison gates, saying she wanted to hand him a letter.

In it, she wrote: "My mother and father were not members of any organisation or political group.

"They were just normal people doing normal things on a Saturday morning. What gave you the right to take away their lives?"

Kelly, aged 24, was released by another prison gate well away from Miss Williamson's protest.

Ahead of the official launch of the petition on Friday in the Shankill Road garden of remembrance, more than 8,000 signatures have already been collected.

Miss Williamson said: "Mother's Day is approaching and that is one of the hardest days of the year for me.

"I will never come to terms with the loss of my parents. It is all still in my heart as if it happened yesterday."

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