Stuart Packard, a 40-year old father of two who was living in Essex, has died from cancer which is thought to be linked to the 1996 IRA bombing in Manchester. Mr. Packard had worked as a security guard at the site for around three weeks after the bombing and it is thought that he may have been exposed to asbestos.
Mr. Packard died in November and had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in March of this year. A claim is being considered by his family as it may be that he wasn’t offered sufficient protective equipment at the time.
The Provisional IRA took responsibility for planting the bomb in June 1996 which injured over 200 people and caused over £1 billion of damage. The IRA were condemned by the British, Irish and American Governments in what was the largest bomb on English soil since the Second World War.
John McDonnell has apologised on BBC’s Question Time for comments he made regarding the IRA and the peace process.
McDonnell had said:
“It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA. Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands, we now have a peace process.”
The comments had drawn widespread condemnation across the political parties and McDonnell said:
“I think my choice of words was wrong. I accept that”.
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) have confirmed that they will be withdrawing from the Northern Ireland Executive. The decision comes following the murder of Kevin McGuigan which the Police Service of Northern Ireland said was committed by members of the Provisional IRA.
Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the UUP, said that he supported the decision to withdraw from the Executive. He added that:
“Sinn Fein no credibility and we have no trust and without trust we have nothing”.
Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said:
“This is a matter for the Ulster Unionist Party who take their own decisions. The Government remains fully committed to the devolved political institutions and to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. Over the coming days, I shall be continuing my discussions with the parties about fallout from the murder of Kevin McGuigan”.
Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, had previously said:
“The IRA has gone and is not coming back”.