Inam Bashir and John Jeffries. Two names you’ve probably never heard of. I knew their faces but not their names. They worked in a newsagents by South Quay DLR station on the Isle of Dogs. Each morning I’d call in to their little kiosk to buy my morning newspapers on the way to work. On 9 February 1996 I decided to drive to work in London’s Victoria so I didn’t see them that morning. I wouldn’t see them ever again.
At one minute past seven that same evening I was driving back to my flat just off Westferry Circus. I was driving past the Tower of London when I heard a muffled boom. I had no idea what it meant until I reached the underground roundabout at the top of the Isle of Dogs. Sirens were going. Police were everywhere. As I emerged into the daylight, only yards from my flat in Cascades – the building Prince Charles referred to as a ‘monstrous carbunkle’ – everything was being cordoned off. I wound down my window and shouted to a policeman: “What’s going on?”. He replied with one word: “Bomb”.
I managed to get into my building only seconds before the cordon came down.
I never saw Inam or John again. They were killed by the blast. Innocent men, no doubt with loving families. Killed. For what? Killed by IRA cowards. On the orders of IRA cowards. I have no idea whether Martin McGuinness gave the orders for that bomb to be planted. In a way it doesn’t really matter. We know that he approved and ordered dozens of other terror atrocities and clearly did nothing to prevent this one.
Yes, I hear all the blather today about how vital he was to the peace process, and in many ways he was. He adapted to government in a way no one could have predicted. I acknowledge all that.
But no, I won’t indulge in all the kind words being uttered about him today, often by the very same people who rejoiced in Margaret Thatcher’s passing.
A great loss; an extraordinary life that culminated in great service https://t.co/GVnQBITCXX
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) March 21, 2017
I don’t mourn his passing. How could I when all I can do today is remember Inam Bashir and John Jeffries.
PS The man convicted of planting the bomb was released after only two years under Good Friday Agreement.