Irish Republican News · August 17, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Bombay Street remembered

The people of Clonard in west Belfast commemorated the thirty-fifth anniversary of the burning of Bombay Street on August 15, 1969 at the weekend.

Trouble erupted in towns and cities across the north after an Apprentice Boys parade in Derry on August 12 1969 led to the Battle of the Bogside.

Intense street battles in the Clonard area of west Belfast led to the burning of homes in the Catholic Bombay Street - at the rear of the monastery - by a mob of Protestants.

The mob, who were armed with petrol bombs and sticks, came from the Protestant Cupar Street area.

During the disturbances homes were also set on fire in Conway Street, Kashmir Road and Clonard Gardens.

Around 1,800 families were left homeless as a result of the trouble.

During the trouble of August 15, 15-year-old Gerald McAuley was shot and killed in Waterville Street, behind Clonard monastery.

Fr Reynolds described the events of August 1969 as “ethnic cleansing”.

“Remembering the burning of Bombay Street should move us to do all we can to right that wrong. With us there should be no acceptance of ethnic cleansing.

“Remembering the burning of Bombay Street can also make us more caring to asylum seekers in our midst. They face the same as the Clonard people did 35 years ago.”

“Remembering the burning of Bombay Street will become a spiritual benefit. It will open us up to receive mercy and compassion from God and one another,” Fr Reynolds said.

Rita Canavan, a Bombay Street resident of more than 50 years, described the Mass as “very, very beautiful”.

“I have seen a lot of my old neighbours and friends and I felt sad for all my neighbours who are dead, I was representing them,” Mrs Canavan said.

Rita McAuley, a sister of Gerald McAuley, paid tribute to all who organised the special Mass.

“It’s nice to think that after all these years that he is remembered in such a fond way,” she said.

This weekend also marked the 35th anniversary of the first death of a child in the Troubles.

Nine-year-old Patrick Rooney was lying on a bed in his family’s flat in Divis Tower in the Falls Road area of west Belfast when he was shot by a tracer bullet fired by the RUC police.

The shot was fired from a heavy Browning machine-gun which was mounted on an RUC armoured car. The schoolboy was taken to hospital where he later died.

Remembering his son’s death in later years, Patrick’s father, Cornelius said: “The rioting got worse and the shooting started.

“I thought of getting all the children into one room but before we had time to get organised and lie down the room lit up with flashes.

“I was grazed by a bullet and Patrick seemed to fall along the wall.

“I thought he fainted from seeing me bleed, but then I saw that the back of his head was covered with blood and I knew the flashes had been bullets and that Patrick was shot.”

In all six people died violent deaths during the August 1969 riots in Belfast. The four other people to die were: Samuel McLarnon, Michael Lynch, John Gallagher and Hugh McCabe.


  • Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of the Omagh bombing that killed 29 people, including a mother pregnant with twins, and injured hundreds.

    Relatives pressed the North’s Human Rights Commission to support a public inquiry having met the organisation last week.

    Mr Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the attack, said a full cross-Border inquiry into the events of that day was needed as soon as possible.

    He told the BBC: “We just feel that coming up to the 6th anniversary we have had I think six inquiries in the last six years and at the end of that process the families know very little. We feel that the best way to know what happened at Omagh on the 15th of August was to have a full cross-Border public inquiry.”

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    © 2004 Irish Republican News