A man whose son was killed by an IRA bomb has spoken of the positive relationship he has developed with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness – a former commander of the republican organisation.
Colin Parry’s child Tim was one of two boys killed in the attack in Warrington in 1993.
The 12-year-old schoolboy and three-year-old Johnathan Ball lost their lives when bombs planted in litter bins in the town’s main shopping area exploded.
Mr Parry and his wife Wendy have become committed peace campaigners since the death of their son, setting up and operating a charitable reconciliation centre in Warrington - The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace.
Mr Parry, who stressed he will never forgive the IRA, and Mr McGuinness last night shared their differing perspectives on the Northern Ireland peace process during an event for the west Belfast festival – the Feile an Phobail.
“I am always delighted to share a platform with people like Martin, I make no secret about it – we get along very well personally,” said Mr Parry.
“It’s sometimes strange for people who don’t know Martin, who say to me how can that be, given our different pasts? If you take people as you find them, Martin has always been extremely courteous to me and Wendy.”
Mr Parry said he could not explain why he had developed closer links with republican politicians than unionists in his reconciliation work and said allegations sometimes levelled against him on social media that he was an “apologist” for the republican movement were upsetting.
He said he thought he and Stormont’s Deputy First Minister shared the same goal.
“I think there is a common desire to cement the peace process here and to work in our own ways towards long-lasting peace and a fair society in Ireland - with or without a border, that’s not an issue for me,” he said.
“I am delighted to have this chance to speak with Martin again and represent our charity and say that out of a terribly dark deed has come something rather good.”
During the event in St Mary’s University College, Mr McGuinness recalled his own visits to Warrington, hailing the courage of the Parrys and others who welcomed him.
“I admire tremendously Colin and Wendy Parry - I think what they went through was absolutely horrendous and the brand of republicanism that I represent was responsible for that,” he said. “Their hearts were broken by us.”
No one has been prosecuted for the Warrington outrage on March 20, 1993.