Warrington IRA bombing: Minute's silence to mark 25th anniversary

Media caption,
Johnathan Ball, three, and Tim Parry, 12, were killed in the blast

Hundreds of people have held a minute's silence in Warrington to mark the 25th anniversary of an IRA bombing which killed two young boys.

Johnathan Ball, three, and Tim Parry, 12, died and 54 others were hurt when two bombs hidden inside litter bins exploded on 20 March 1993.

The Provisional IRA acknowledged its involvement the following day.

The Princess Royal was amongst those observing the silence at 12:27 GMT, the exact time the bombs went off.

"Neither Tim nor Jonathan died in vain," Colin Parry, father of Tim, told the crowd.

Image source, Warrington Council
Image caption,
Princess Anne attended the service

Mr Parry and his wife Wendy established a Foundation for Peace in the names of the two victims.

"It's crystal clear - a day in my life I will never ever forget," Mr Parry said.

He said "Tim died in my arms" five days after the attack on Bridge Street in the town centre, where he had gone to buy a Mother's Day card.

"I'm mostly all cried out... there are occasions when a piece of music catches you unawares".

Image caption,
Warrington's deputy mayor, Karen Mundry, joined the families in laying wreaths
Image source, PA

At the scene: Phil Cooper, BBC Radio Merseyside

It was a poignant and moving service attended by hundreds of people, including members of the emergency services who were there on the day.

We saw the Ball and Parry families lay wreaths for the two children while local school pupils joined the Male Voice Choir to sing "Imagine".

Some of those injured on the day and officials from the British and Irish governments watched on.

The crowd listened to readings given by the grandchildren of Mr and Mrs Parry, one of whom said: "I wish I had met my uncle Tim but I will one day."

Rev Stephen Kingsnorth talked about the work over the past 25 years to secure a lasting peace, which he said is "not just about treaties but about listening".

"From the gloom there have been signs of hope", he said.

The bomber or bombers have never been brought to justice.

Media caption,
Warrington IRA bomb 25th anniversary marked

Former Det Supt Les Lee, who was in charge of the investigation, said "professionally, it was one of the saddest things in my life".

"The first thing I saw was the remains of a cast iron bin. There were broken windows.

"The place was silent - that's what struck me as I was walking up Bridge Street... it was just eerie.

"I looked to my left and in the doorway was the body of Johnathan".

He said "there was a lot of anger, a lot of disgust" but "it was amazing how the town responded".

"There's no doubt in my mind that the events of Warrington had a significant impact on what subsequently happened in Northern Ireland."

Image source, Warrington Council
Image caption,
The River of Life memorial was placed at the site of the attack on Bridge Street in 1996

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