UK

Canary Wharf: My brother, the bomb and our business

bomb site
Image caption Hundreds of people were injured by flying glass in the aftermath of the explosion

Twenty years ago an IRA bomb detonated in the heart of London's Docklands not only destroyed one of the country's biggest financial and economic centres, but also destroyed a much smaller business - a newsagent's shop. How did the family company recover?

Two people working in the shop in Canary Wharf - Inam Bashir and John Jeffries - had not managed to evacuate the premises in time. They were killed.

Over the past two decades Mr Bashir's brother, Ihsan, has been not only trying to come to terms with the loss of his brother but fighting to keep the business going.

He said: "The bomb was parked right next to our shop. The site itself, if you look at the pictures of it, it looks like a nuclear bomb has hit that. The way the damage is, it looks like the whole city has been wrecked."

Image caption Imam Bashir and John Jeffries were killed in the IRA attack

The Bashir family not only suffered the loss of a son and brother, but shortly afterwards their father had a heart attack and died.

Ihsan has said the differing experiences of Troubles victims on either side of the Irish Sea are clear to him.

"Once the funerals were over then you just look at your life, how you're going to cope with your loss.

"People in England don't have much of a voice. People in Northern Ireland do, which is right, because they have suffered a lot. The UK government has tried their best to help, as much as they can, to appease the victims.

"But most of the time I feel that the appeasement has gone to the IRA, not to the actual families and victims. They have been forgotten. "

Image caption The half-tonne bomb was left in a small lorry near the Bashir's newsagent

With the business gone, the family struggled to keep their heads above water, but eventually Mr Bashir reopened the newsagent and began trading again.

Now, he runs a delicatessen on exactly the same spot where it all happened - a new business selling baguettes.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Ihsan Bashir now runs Baguette Express on the site of the family newsagent

He said he views it as continuing the legacy of a hard-working brother, as well as that of the family's friend and colleague John Jeffries.

"We will run it in their memory, and in memory against terrorism. You can't stop us from moving on, you cannot stop our lives. We will fight to make it survive, and work it.

"There's a old saying that you give your life for your business. Well we have. We've given our blood to that business. So I'm not going to let that go."

Image caption The bombing marked the end of a 17-month IRA ceasefire

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