Girls killed by loyalist bomb 50 years ago commemorated by group of victims

Paula Stronge and Clare Hughes were killed in an explosion on October 31, 1972.

Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) said: “SEFF remembers Paula Stronge and Clare Hughes who were murdered by UDA/UFF terrorists 50 years ago today.

“Paula was a six-year-old Roman Catholic child and Clare was a four-year-old Roman Catholic child.

Paula Stronge (left) and Clare Hughes were killed by a loyalist bomb while playing in the street

“The two children were playing in the street when a UDA/UFF bomb exploded in a car outside a bar near their home in the Docks area of ​​Belfast.”

The bomb had been left near Benny’s Bar at Ship and Garmoyle streets. The Stronge family lived in Marine Street and the Hughes family lived in Ship Street.

On Halloween night, Paula went to the Hughes’ to see if Clare wanted to see the bonfire. Clare’s sister organized a costume contest in which the children of the neighborhood took part.

As the children were playing around the bonfire, a maroon-colored Mini with three men in it pulled up at Benny’s Bar. A few minutes later they drove off in a black car leaving a 100 pound bomb in a beer keg in the Mini.

Around 8:05 p.m., the bomb exploded. Paula died almost immediately after sustaining a head injury from debris.

Clare Hughes also sustained a head injury and died on the way to hospital.

At least a dozen bar patrons were buried under the rubble.

Paula’s father was trying to dig up survivors when he was told his daughter had been caught in the blast. He said he knew she was dead when he saw her on the sidewalk.

Mr. Donaldson, Director of Services at SEFF, said: “This was a horrific act of terrorism worthy of the darkest evils that can be associated with Halloween.

“This outrage from loyalist terrorists was unfortunately repeated at various times throughout The Troubles, including Greysteel 21 years later when those words, trick or treat, were used.”

Nine years after the bombing, three men were sentenced to life after admitting to the explosion. They said they were deeply sorry for the girls’ deaths.

Mr Donaldson said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of little Paula and Clare.”

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