Belfast Telegraph

Despicable act that became a turning point of the Troubles

By Rebecca Black

Colin Parry lost his youngest son Tim on March 20, 1993 when two IRA bombs went off in Warrington town centre in the north of England.

The 12-year-old had been looking for a pair of football shorts at Gold Square shopping centre when the bombs exploded in litter bins nearby. Tim received serious head injuries in the attack in which three-year-old Johnathon Ball died instantly and another 56 people were injured. The young boy died in hospital from his injuries six days after the bombings.

No one has ever been convicted of the atrocity, which received massive media coverage at the time and sparked a wave of revulsion across Britain and Ireland.

In Dublin housewife and mother Susan McKay set up a group called Peace 93 and held a peace rally attended by thousands just five days after the bombing. The Irish Government announced measures to make extradition from the Republic to the UK easier, and the following year Irish rock band The Cranberries released the song Zombie, which was written as an outraged response to the Warrington bombs.

Colin and his wife Wendy set up the Tim Parry Trust Fund to promote greater understanding between Britain and Ireland and visited Ireland in 1993 to meet both loyalists and republicans.

They also set up the Tim Parry-Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, which established a peace centre in Warrington. The centre opened in 2000 on the seventh anniversary of the bombing.

The couple met Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in London in 2007 and received an apology from him. Several years later they met Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Warrington.

Mr Parry received some criticism from other victims of IRA violence when he addressed a Sinn Fein-organised conference in London in 2013.

He was criticised again when he invited Mr McGuinness to speak at the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Warrington bombings in the same year.

Earlier this year the Warrington peace centre suffered a major blow when its National Lottery funding ran out. However, Chancellor George Osborne threw it a lifeline in the Budget, committing £150,000 from the Westminster purse after he paid a visit and heard more about the work it did.

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