Personal Views

Never again

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 07 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:66
  1. Cathal Foy

    At 1 30 pm on Saturday 16 October 1993 a no warning IRA bomb exploded in a fishmonger's shop on the Shankill Road in west Belfast. Ten people were killed and dozens more injured. For the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland this heralded one of the most violent and frightening periods in a deeply troubled 25 years. Ironically, it was this event and the subsequent atrocities that drove the effort that has now resulted in a multilateral ceasefire. I was at work as a casualty officer in the Belfast City Hospital. Then, out of the blue, at 1 45 pm, there was a telephone call from the police. A bomb had exploded on the Shankill Road. It was bad.

    Quickly we prepared the department. Cubicles were cleared. Resuscitation rooms were checked. Ambulance control radioed for an accident unit to be dispatched to the scene immediately. Two nurses and I hurried to a waiting ambulance. I was keen to go, to put into practice skills that I had learnt and so far had been untapped. I was excited and nervous.

    The ambulance doors opened and with an enforced calmness I deliberately stepped out into the sunlight. For a few seconds I was hypnotised by the scene. It was like being inside a television news report. The shop had been in a two storey terrace. The roof remained intact but sagged having no support underneath. The right quarter of the shop front remained clinging to the grocer's shop next door. I chilled at the sight of the loyalist paramilitary plaques on the gable wall. This was …

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