Family plan wreath laying for St Albans IRA bomber

THE FAMILY of one of two IRA members killed when a bomb they were carrying exploded prematurely in St Albans in 1991 wants to mark the 20th anniversary of her death by laying a wreath in the city centre this weekend.

The blast, on Friday, November 15, 1991, devastated St Albans city centre when a seven-pound Semtex bomb detonated in the doorway of the old Barclays Bank building adjoining the civic centre – now the Northern Rock. It showered the surrounding area with debris and human remains.

The intended target was a concert by the Blues and Royals military band at the Alban Arena which was packed that night.

A member of the public was injured in the blast that killed members of the Provisional IRA, Patricia Black, aged 18, and Frankie Ryan. It is believed that the family of Patricia wants to mark the 20th anniversary of her death.

The chief executive of St Albans district council, Daniel Goodwin, said yesterday: “We understand that plans for a private family wreath laying in St Albans were being proposed for one of the members of the IRA who died in the city in 1991.

“In view of the circumstances the district council, which owns the land where the bomb was detonated, is liaising with the police and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”

A spokeswoman for Herts Police said they were aware of the intention to lay wreaths this weekend in St Albans for one of the dead IRA members.

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She added: “At this stage we are currently making numerous checks as to who is organising this and what their plans are.

“Until the exact circumstances are confirmed it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further.”

The explosion that ripped through the unused bank building was one of two attacks the IRA launched in St Albans in 1991.

The first, in February, was a bomb on the railway line just south of the city, which sent a yard-long piece of track through the roof of a garage in New Barnes Avenue.

Had the bomb exploded moments earlier, or later, the results would have been catastrophic.

A Herts Advertiser article at that time said rail passengers were just minutes from death when the IRA brought their campaign of terror to the city, blasting a section of the then Inter-City rail line.

Just nine months later, the city centre was at the centre of worldwide headlines over the blast. Former Herts Advertiser chief photographer Tony Gregory was in the Waterend Barn when an IRA bomb exploded in the city centre and captured the only pictures of the immediate aftermath.