On Bloody Friday, the Provisional IRA detonated 19 bombs across the city of Belfast, killing 9 people and injuring 130 – most of whom were women and children.
Paper Trail discovered secret British military logs in London and “secured their release following prolonged information battles and Public Interest Tests. The organisation made the secret files and newspaper archives available to victims and survivors – research that otherwise would have taken them years of delay and hundreds of hours of work.”
One of the most interesting discoveries by Paper Trail relates to a mistake made by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) about disputed warnings given about the bombs, one of which was at Limestone Road. The report explains that:
The Limestone Road bomb exploded 36 minutes after these warnings and without the civilians in the area suspecting a bomb was in the vehicle.
It is miraculous that many more civilians were not massacred at this bomb site although many suffered horrific injuries including a woman who lost both legs and a child who lost one.
The HET records both of these explosions as “no-warning” bombs and that is how they were reported at the time.
This is wrong and we need to interrogate why the authorities did not even attempt to clear these two specific locations.
Despite the desperate actions of the British armed forces on Bloody Friday – which undoubtedly saved scores of civilian lives – the families may consider the Oxford Street Bus Station, Cavehill shop and Limestone Road explosions terrible missed opportunities to save lives.
The families may also question why they and the Coroner were given false information by the authorities.
It goes without saying, that the greater questions lie with the perpetrators of every explosion on Bloody Friday, the IRA.
In powerful interviews with the BBC, Robert Gibson said: “The truth is something everybody deserves.”
He knows there are Irish Republicans still alive today who can help the families.
“I would like to know what my father and his colleagues went into that day… Were the warnings they had given inefficient?”
The Paper Trail report can be accessed here: Bloody Friday – the Missing Warnings (papertrail.pro)