Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Parrys' heartache a lesson for us all

Twenty years ago tomorrow IRA bombs in Warrington killed two children, Timothy Parry and Johnathan Ball.

Today Timothy's parents Colin and Wendy will tell members of the Northern Ireland Assembly of the never-ending, searing pain they have endured for the past two decades as they grieve for their dead son and the life he could have lived. It is a tale that could be told 3,000 times over, such was the death toll of the Troubles, but it is one that the members should listen carefully to.

Anyone reading Mr Parry's poignant recollection in this newspaper today of how he embraced his 12-year-old son as doctors switched off his life-support machine can only guess at his pain. Yet his is not just a tale of loss. For out of that terrible tragedy Mr and Mrs Parry created a wonderful legacy, a Foundation for Peace named after the two boys.

Their drive in getting the charity off the ground was matched only by their vision of what it should do. Initially the focus was on peace-building between their home town and groups in all parts of Ireland, but as the Troubles faded it now tries to prevent young people being sucked into new terrorism, such as that wrought by Islamic fundamentalists. It seems to be part of human nature to be in conflict. The foundation tries to prevent that antagonism being expressed through violence of the sort that robbed them and the Ball family of their sons.

There are lessons to be learned. There are still men of hatred in Northern Ireland, with dissident republicans attempting to turn back the clock and cause more deaths through bombs and bullets. They are still wooing vulnerable young people to their ranks, ruining their lives as well as those of their victims.

And the politicians should also take note of the foundation's peace-building work. It stands in stark contrast to their own inability to deliver a blueprint for a shared future here.

Until we respect each other, tragedy could be just around the corner, as it was that terrible day in Warrington.

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