No commemoration for Manchester bombing

File photo dated 17/06/96 of an aerial view of Manchester city centre showing the bomb-damaged Arndale Centre (left) and Marks & Spencer in Corporation Street (bottom right)
File photo dated 17/06/96 of an aerial view of Manchester city centre showing the bomb-damaged Arndale Centre (left) and Marks & Spencer in Corporation Street (bottom right)

No civic commemoration will take place in Manchester today to mark the 20th anniversary of an IRA bombing.

Manchester City Council said it does not forget the events of June 15, 1996 or “seek to downplay them” but said the city has “moved on”.

A 3,000lb truck bomb was detonated near the Arndale Centre, causing widespread devastation and leaving more than 200 people injured. Miraculously, no-one was killed.

The Provisional IRA telephoned a number of warnings about 90 minutes before the blast after the Ford Cargo truck was earlier abandoned in Corporation Street.

Up to 80,000 people were thought to be in the vicinity on the Saturday morning as police evacuated the busy shopping area ahead of the arrival of a bomb disposal team. They were unable to defuse the bomb in time and it exploded at 11.17am, causing £700 million of damage.

In a statement explaining its rationale not to hold a memorial event, the council said: “Two decades ago, the IRA detonated a bomb in Manchester city centre.

“Mercifully no-one was killed but it caused considerable damage and alarm.

“We do not forget the events of that day or seek to downplay them. We recognise and respect the courage shown by the emergency services and Mancunians and the resilient spirit shown by the city.

“But nor do we choose to dwell on the events of June 15 1996, every five years.

“Rather than harking back to one moment in the city’s eventful history, we prefer as a council to look forward.”

Last week, the North West Counter Terrorism Unit said it would reopen files and assess the evidence again to see if further investigations can be carried out.

No-one has ever been charged over the bombing.