Warrington charity's Maze overture
Published 21/03/2013 | 08:00
The foundation set up by the parents of the Warrington IRA bomb victims is set to help Northern Ireland's controversial conflict centre at the former Maze Prison.
The offer was made when Colin and Wendy Parry – whose son Tim (right) was killed in the IRA attack 20 years ago today – met Stormont junior ministers Jonathan Bell of the DUP and Jennifer McCann from Sinn Fein yesterday.
Three-year-old Johnathan Ball also died in the devastation caused by two bombs in litter bins in the centre of the town, which injured a further 56 people.
On his first visit to the province in more than six years, Mr Parry said he hoped the "best practice" of the Foundation for Peace could benefit the centre, which now has the backing of the two main Stormont parties, DUP and Sinn Fein.
Mr Parry said he believed that if some of the programmes developed by the foundation are implemented at the new centre it could help to "make a difference" here.
Established by the Parrys, the foundation opened on the seventh anniversary of the attack and has since seen more than 25,000 people come through the doors.
"People have come out the far end with a different attitude about how life should be led," Mr Parry told a reception in Parliament Buildings.
At the Warrington centre, people learn about "the causes and non-violent resolution of conflict, so that they might turn their passion for and commitment to peace into the skills which can help prevent other atrocities."
The centre has supported survivors of acts of terror and politically motivated violence such as the 7/7 London bombings and the Sharm el Sheikh massacre, and has also brought survivors together to meet.
Its chief executive, Nick Taylor, told the reception he realised the location of the Maze centre is "highly sensitive" but described it as an "ambitious" project.
"We would love to be involved and we have asked the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers and Speaker Mr Hay how we might be able to help."
Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, a member of the Maze consultative panel during the last period of direct rule, said he believed the involvement of the foundation is an "excellent idea".
"We looked at peace models and best practice all over the world but for some reason we never looked at Warrington," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Ms McCann said she wanted to acknowledge the hurt and devastation for which republicans were responsible.
And Mr Bell said: "We cannot afford to allow the next generation to grow up with the prejudices of the past."