Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, was in Warrington yesterday to join dignitaries and locals to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing that claimed the lives of two young boys, Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry.
Hundreds of people gathered to hold a minutes’ silence in Warrington to mark the moment when the two youngsters were killed, and 54 others injured, at 12:27 GMT on 20th March 1993; two bombs hidden inside litter bins exploded bringing devastation and heartbreak to the Cheshire town.
— Derek Clark (@derekclarksport) March 20, 2018
The Provisional IRA claimed responsibility the next day.
The Princess Royal joined the families of Jonathan Ball, three-years-old at the time of his death, and Tim Parry, 12, for the minute’s silence and to commemorate their lives in the solemn act of remembrance.
20th March 1993 was a Saturday and the day before Mothering Sunday. Jonathan and Tim were in the town centre along with hundreds of other locals to buy cards and gifts to give to their mums the following day. The outcry following the atrocity is believed to have been a major contributing factor to the peace process and the Good Friday agreement that was signed five years later.
A driving force towards that march to peace was Tim’s father, Colin Parry. Colin focused his personal tragedy and grief to found The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation with his wife, Wendy. The foundation is a charity that works nationally and internationally for peace and non-violent conflict resolution. Opened in March 2000, it supports people across the country who have been affected by terrorism, including 750 affected by the Manchester Arena attack last May.
Princess Anne has paid her respects to the victims of the Warrington bombings during a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA attack. pic.twitter.com/R5cm7Q0tGh
— Her Royal Highness (@vaninaswchindt) March 20, 2018
Addressing those gathered for the commemoration Colin Parry said: “It’s crystal clear – a day in my life I will never ever forget.
“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”.
Joining the families were members of the emergency services who were there on the day and representatives of the British and Irish Governments.
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.
Those responsible for the bombing have never been brought to justice. Former IRA commander Martin McGuinness described the bombings as a ‘shameful act’ and expressed his personal regret in 2013.
Former Det Supt Les Lee, who was in charge of the investigation, said “professionally, it was one of the saddest things in my life”.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the events of Warrington had a significant impact on what subsequently happened in Northern Ireland.”
Following the commemoration in Warrington, Princess Anne went on to Harbourne, Birmingham and Princess Alexandra College, to help mark its 20th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of Lattitude in Ecuador.