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Northern Ireland minister visits London Docklands IRA victims day after Westminster attack

PUBLISHED: 11:29 24 March 2017

Police outside Westminster Abbey, London, following the terror attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Police outside Westminster Abbey, London, following the terror attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A government minister made a whistlestop visit to east London yesterday to meet relatives of terrorism just a day after Wednesday’s atrocity at Westminster.

Northern Ireland Under Secretary Kris Hopkins with Docklands Victims Association's Jonathan Ganesh who presented him with East London Advertiser photograph of last year's memorial ceremony of IRA Canary Wharf bombingNorthern Ireland Under Secretary Kris Hopkins with Docklands Victims Association's Jonathan Ganesh who presented him with East London Advertiser photograph of last year's memorial ceremony of IRA Canary Wharf bombing

Northern Ireland Parliamentary Under-Secretary Kris Hopkins made an unscheduled visit to the office of the Docklands Victims’ Association in Hackney Wick.

It was just 24 hours after the attack on Westminster Bridge in which four innocent victims died when Khalid Masood drove a hired car into pedestrians, then stabbed Parliamentary Diplomatic Protection Squad officer Keith Palmer. Masood was shot dead in the incident.

The minister’s visit was to show solidarity with the Docklands organisation which has been lobbying Parliament for compensation following the 1996 IRA attack at Canary Wharf, when a Semtex bomb was detonated outside the former Midland Bank HQ killing two men and injuring 50 people.

He was met by the association’s founder, former bank security guard Jonathan Ganesh who was injured himself in the IRA bombing 21 years ago.

20th anniverary memorial service in 2016 of IRA Canary Wharf bombing20th anniverary memorial service in 2016 of IRA Canary Wharf bombing

“It was a credit to the minister that he took time away from Westminster to visit us,” Jonathan told the East London Advertiser today.

“We were grateful for his visit as we didn’t expect him to come because of what happened at Westminster.”

The association also held a minute’s silence.

Jonathan added: “We’re saddened for all those affected by this act of pure evil. Democracy and freedom must prevail against evil.”

Ihsan Bashir... brother Inam Bashir killed by IRA Canary Wharf bomb in 1996Ihsan Bashir... brother Inam Bashir killed by IRA Canary Wharf bomb in 1996

He lost two friends in the 1996 bombing—newsagent Inam Bashir, 27, and shop-worker John Jeffries, 29, both killed outright.

Ihsan’s brother Inam, a Muslim and a founder-member of the Docklands organisation, spoke out against Islamist terrorism following Wednesday’s attack at Westminster.

He said: “Terrorists do not care who gets killed or maimed. I know as a Muslim and victim of IRA terror that Islam is a religion of peace.”

Many IRA atrocities during the Troubles were carried out with Semtex explosive supplied by Libya’s dictator Col Gaddafi, including the attack on Harrod’s in Knightsbridge in 1986.

In memory of Ihsan Bashir and John Jeffries killed in IRA bombing in 1996In memory of Ihsan Bashir and John Jeffries killed in IRA bombing in 1996

Susanne Dodd, daughter of Met Police Insp Stephen Dodd killed at Harrod’s, said last night: “I felt pleased the minister came to visit victims and their families. Having lost my father, I feel immense sympathy with the victims of Westminster. Terrorists cause unimaginable pain and suffering.”

The Docklands organisation founded to fight for compensation for families on Millwall’s Barkantine housing estate, which took the full blast of the Canary Wharf bombing, has since widened its brief to include the 7/7 bombings in 2005, including Aldgate.

But it had a setback last month when a Parliamentary Bill for compensation from Gaddafi’s financial assets held in London was lost in the Commons.

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