Docklands doubts 'a bunch of bastards'

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The Independent Online
Alistair Cook is still picking the splinters of glass out of his carpet 17 months after the Docklands bomb which ended the last IRA ceasefire and shattered virtually every window-pane in his tower block.

He did not really care about the new promise of peace yesterday. And, like most of the other residents of the Barkantine Estate on the Isle of Dogs, he was mightily suspicious.

"They're a bunch of bastards and I don't believe anything they say," said the 34-year-old civil servant. "We always knew it probably wasn't going to last and that's what I think this time."

Every day, the estate residents are reminded of the giant South Quay blast on 9 February, 1996, which killed two people and caused an estimated pounds 400m damage. Their blocks of flats are encased in scaffolding, although the terrorist damage has been dealt with and the work now is a refurbishment programme brought forward as a result.

The nearby businesses that bore the brunt of the explosion are still swathed in plastic and green netting where windows were blown out. The Midland Bank remains derelict and unrecognisable. Cars queue at the traffic lights where the road is still diverted around the site of the blast.

Joyce Wiggan, who lives on the 16th floor of a Barkantine tower block, said: "They say one thing and do another. I still shake when I think about last year, and my blood pressure's sky-high. It was a very, very shocking experience." A neighbour, Rosalie Eleodore, 57, was more positive. "If they stopped doing it, it would be good," she said. "I'm very pleased."

Rita Bensley, chairwoman of the local Association of Island Communities, went to Belfast four days after the bombing at the invitation of a television crew to meet representatives of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

She was unimpressed. "They just lie so glibly. They've got to do a lot more than just say there's going to be a ceasefire. I'm very sceptical. I think they're totally untrustworthy."