The Docklands Bomb

What became known as the “troubles” began in Northern Ireland in 1969. It could be said that this was just the latest flare-up in tension and violence which had been going on and off for centuries. Although it did put Catholics against Protestants, it was also about whether Northern Ireland should remain as part of Great Britain or be governed by the Irish parliament in Dublin. Both of the armed groups opposing each other were the Ulster Defence Force or UDF for the protestants and the Irish Republican Army or IRA on the side of the Catholics. In the middle of it all were the police service and later, the British Army.

By the mid-1990s, thousands of people had died with little to show as regarding a truce. But, slowly there was a change in the air and in 1995 a ceasefire was called by both sides. It was a fragile one to say the least. During the past years, bombings and assassinations not only took place in Northern Ireland, but also on the mainland of Great Britain. So, fragile or not, every effort was made to keep the ceasefire going.

However, on the 9th February 1996, the IRA set off a massive bomb in London which blew the ceasefire apart. The bomb weighing half a ton was carried in a lorry which headed for the new Docklands enterprise of new offices and apartment buildings. Just a couple of stations south of Canary Wharf at South Quays station on the Docklands Light Railway or DLR, the lorry was parked. South Quays station is above ground as the line passes above the roads below.

At 7pm that evening, the bomb exploded. It killed two people, Inan Bashir and John Jeffries. In addition, 39 others were injured. Buildings close by were either destroyed or badly damaged. It was estimated to have done £85 million of damage. The Provisional IRA claimed responsibility. It meant a big problem for those seeking peace. However, a short time later, the Good Friday Agreement was signed by all sides and a certain peace has remained ever since. But the crucial question of Northern Ireland remaining British or being governed by the Irish Republic still remains an open bone of contention.

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