CHRISTMAS lights were dimmed in Glasgow’s George Square yesterday as the city remembered the victims of the city’s bin lorry crash that happened exactly a year ago.
Bookings for the Christmas ice rink in the square were not taken between 2pm and 3pm, while fairground rides also shut down as a mark of respect.
What happened in Glasgow a year ago was an accident - we now know an accident waiting to happen, but still an accident. Pointless, meaningless, a consequence of human folly and irresponsibilityRev Dr Gregor Duncan
Glasgow City Council decided bin lorries would not use Queen Street on the day of the anniversary of the crash there on 22 December last year.
In Glasgow Cathedral, a two-minute silence was held at a commemorative service attended by bereaved families, injured survivors, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and members of the emergency services who helped at the scene.
Seven candles were lit – one for each of the six victims and a seventh for all those injured and affected by the crash.
The names of each of the dead – Erin McQuade, Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Stephenie Tait, Jacqueline Morton and Gillian Ewing – were read out, before a relative or friend of each placed a candle on the altar beside flowers taken from the initial tributes left in Royal Exchange Square in the days after the tragedy.
The crash happened when bin lorry driver Harry Clarke lost consciousness behind the wheel and the truck careered out of control.
During the fatal accident inquiry into the crash, it emerged Mr Clarke had a history of blackouts and faints which he had not disclosed to the DVLA, or when applying for the job at Glasgow City Council.
A sheriff ruled the crash might have been avoided if Mr Clarke had told the truth about his medical history.
Yesterday’s service was led by the Right Rev Dr Gregor Duncan, Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, and the cathedral was full to its 700-seat capacity.
Mr Duncan said: “What happened in Glasgow a year ago was an accident – we now know, an accident waiting to happen, but still an accident. Pointless, meaningless, a consequence of human folly and irresponsibility.”
Henry Toal and Matthew Telford, the two crewmen who were travelling in the bin lorry when it crashed, were among the hundreds of people at the memorial.
Ms Sturgeon read from the Book of Wisdom, and prayers were also said for the bereaved families, witnesses to the crash, the emergency services and members of the public who helped at the scene.
After the service, Ms Sturgeon said: “I would like to take this opportunity again to convey my deep condolences to the bereaved families who lost loved ones in this awful tragedy. Their grief and anguish is unimaginable and nothing we can say will ease their pain.”
Flowers and tributes were left in Royal Exchange Square, where thousands had been laid last year.
One tribute attached to a bunch of flowers read: “As we celebrate this Christmas, please spare a thought for those families of the victims who can’t hold their loved ones close. In our wee Glasgow city we deal with loads of grief, but our city unites in compassion, though some in disbelief.”