Blast victim faces a bleak Christmas: David McKittrick meets a woman who has been forced to live in a mobile home since a bomb damaged her house
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Thursday 24 December 1992
Her own house, a neat little modern terrace, is just round the corner. The IRA bomb which damaged it, and a thousand other houses and flats, exploded three months ago but repair work has yet to start on her property.
The roof is still off, the windows are still boarded up, and soggy furniture sits where it was tossed on the night of the blast. Many others in the district have made much more rapid progress, but Mrs Chapman is obviously out of her depth.
She will spend Christmas in a little compound of mobile homes which has been erected on some open space in Belvoir Park housing estate. A dozen families have been housed in this neat little shanty settlement, a parody of a seaside caravan site.
The bomb which devastated forensic science laboratories also damaged 1,002 homes, one hundred of them severely. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, following an effort which has been little short of heroic, recently announced that all its 574 tenants were now back in their homes.
The other 400-odd families, who owned their homes, have been affected in various ways. Some did not have to leave; some left and have now returned; some, like Mrs Chapman, cannot yet go back. In the beginning she hoped to be back home by Christmas, but now her target is Easter.
Belvoir Park is in a quiet area, sitting several miles outside Belfast on gentle hills which afford a panoramic view of the city. It was a model estate, which the Housing Executive always held up as an example of what an estate could be. Many families who moved there in the 1960s were thankful they left Belfast before the troubles started, and have stayed on. It thus has a large number of elderly and retired people.
Today Castledillon Road, which bore the brunt of the blast, is a site of desolation. Workmen are everywhere, dumping shattered material skips filled with rubble, plaster and broken timber. Unrepaired roofs are draped with incongruously gaudy yellow and orange tarpaulins which lend a dash of cheerless colour to the dismal scene.
There are 11 families in mobile homes, including Margaret Chapman and her two daughters. This Christmas she will try to keep warm, but is fearful that using the electric heater could bring in a bill she could not afford to pay.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
- 5 Britain First picture: Photographer 'horrified' after first Afghan policewoman killed by Taliban used for 'ban the burka' campaign
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Gabrielle Union contacts FBI over nude 4Chan pictures leaked by 'vultures'
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...