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Saturday, March 14, 1998 Published at 12:46 GMT


Warrington remembers IRA bombing victims
image: [ Tim Parry was shopping when he was fatally injured ]
Tim Parry was shopping when he was fatally injured

Two boys killed by an IRA bomb are being remembered in a service which supporters hope will pave the way for peace in Northern Ireland.

Tim Parry, 12, a keen Everton supporter, was shopping with friends when he was caught in the two blasts in the Cheshire town of Warrington in 1993. He later died in hospital of his injuries.

[ image: Johnathan Ball was three years old when he was killed]
Johnathan Ball was three years old when he was killed
Three-year-old Johnathan Ball was also killed when the explosions tore through the town centre on a busy Saturday afternoon.

More than 200 people gathered at Manchester Cathedral on Saturday to remember the victims and to mark their success in building bridges with communities in Ireland.

Messages of support from the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish President Mary McAleese were read out in the Steps for Peace service which featured clowns, folk singers and representatives from Irish communities.

[ image: Hundreds laid tributes to the boys after the bombing]
Hundreds laid tributes to the boys after the bombing
Supporters then set off on a peace walk from Manchester to Warrington where a pair of trainers, symbolic of the two young boys, were placed at the town's River of Life memorial.

The Warrington bombing was a key point in the IRA's mainland bombing campaign which was calculated to cause to shift the focus of violence away from the province.

But it also led Colin Parry, Tim's father, to launch himself into a highly public campaign for peace both in the UK, Ireland and the USA.

He has since won praise from both UK and Irish leaders for his determined afforts to ensure his son did not die in vain.

Sense of purpose

Mr Parry said the links he has forged with the people of Ireland in the wake of the terrorist attack have given him a sense of purpose.

"I think that to remain sane is to remain positive with a sense of purpose and a clear set of goals.

"While making a programme with BBC's Panorama I realised there was a real need for someone, apart from politicians, who had something coherent to say.

[ image: Colin Parry: forged links with Ireland after the bombing]
Colin Parry: forged links with Ireland after the bombing
"I think the sense of purpose is critical because without that you have nothing but the sense of loss and grief.

"I guess that is why families collapse and fracture because they have nothing else."

Since the death of his son Mr Parry has visited Ireland on numerous occasions and has sought reassurance in the reaction of people who appreciate his efforts for peace.

"I think what we can do is lift the spirits of people who are very despondent and who say the peace process isn't working," he said.

"The men and women of violence can be marginalised because all of those deaths are without any point at all. They make not one iota of sense."

The service also signalled the official launch of the third Warrington Fleadh festival, which is just one of the many peace projects set up in the town since the IRA attack.

Mike Hannon, chairman of the Warrington and Ireland Reconciliation Enterprise said he was determined that Warrington would not be just another statistic.

"The people here didn't want to think the two young boys had died in vain. It is all about us trying to understand and trying to move on. We like to think we are playing a small part in the peace process."

A further service to mark the fifth anniversary of the March 20 bombing is being held in a week's time when doves will be released simultaneously in Belfast, Dublin and Londonderry.

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