La Mon House Hotel Bombing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:22 pm on 13th February 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Des Browne Des Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office, Parliamentary Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 6:22 pm, 13th February 2003

I congratulate Mrs. Robinson on securing the debate. She has done us all a service by enabling the House to remember the tragic events of 25 years ago on Monday, when the La Mon House hotel was bombed. I congratulate her on ensuring that the anniversary did not pass unmarked by Parliament.

As the hon. Lady reminded us, the details of the attack on the La Mon House hotel are horrific. We recall that outrage not only with sorrow but with revulsion. For those to whom the subject is only a faint memory, it was opportune for the hon. Lady to recall the details of the event. It was clear from the manifest emotion that that engendered in her that she feels for the victims and survivors in a very personal way. The bravery that she showed in articulating the story as she did has done us a great service. It was a privilege to be present.

I intended to refer to the details, but it would be an inappropriate use of the short time that I have left. I do, however, want those present to understand that I know the details of that particularly horrific attack. Reminding myself of them in anticipation of the debate brought home to me the nature of the horror. As Minister for victims, I have had the privilege of hearing many moving stories and meeting many brave people. I would not seek to pick out any individual from among those who have survived or been hurt by this terrible tragedy, but one of the most moving stories of all was from Rita Crawford, who lost her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Ian McCracken in this incident. As the hon. Lady reminded us, they were just 25. They were newly married. I met Mrs. Crawford last May during the golden jubilee garden party at Loughry, and I was particularly struck by her dignity and spirit in the face of such overwhelming tragedy. She is a true heroine.

I have not yet had the privilege of meeting many more of those who were affected by the La Mon House atrocity. I am sure that they will be consistent with my experience throughout Northern Ireland: all victims and survivors of violence over the past 30 years are, in their own way, heroes. They are the people who have paid the price of the violence that has scarred Northern Ireland for the past three decades.