MARTIN MCGUINNESS will tonight deliver a peace lecture in Warrington at the invite of a father whose son was killed in the town by an IRA bomb 20 years ago.
Colin Parry, whose child Tim, 12, died in the Cheshire blast following two separate bomb attacks in 1993 has said he has not forgiven the terrorist organisation.
However, he believes that the “audacious” move in inviting McGuinness to the town will send a message to both Britain and Ireland that the peace process is a going through a mature process.
Mr Parry said many people have criticised the decision to allow Mr McGuinness – who many believe is a former commander of the IRA – to deliver the peace lecture.
The current Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister confirmed publicly in 2001 that he was a leading member of the IRA during Bloody Sunday in Derry.
Mr Parry told BBC Breakfast News that the question of forgiveness for the attack – in which Tim Parry was fatally injured along with three-year-old, Jonathan Ball, after bombs planted in litter bins in the town’s main shopping area were detonated shortly after midday on a sunny Saturday afternoon – was a separate issue.
“I haven’t forgiven the IRA for killing Tim, nor has anybody in my family and we never will,” he said.
“But nonetheless we’re pragmatic about the principles of building good relations across communities and across nations and I think you have to be quite hard-headed about it, and if I only ever did things on an emotional basis then I’d make some horrendously bad decisions.
“So this was a hard-headed decision to get Martin McGuinness to speak to a substantially Warrington audience, to explain his history perhaps, to talk about his present position on the arms struggle, and obviously I’ll speak first, so I’ll set the tone – it’s an audacious event,” added Mr Parry.
He went on to reveal that he asked Mr McGuinness to speak following an interview with the politician in April.
“He’s made a significant journey of his own and we’ve got to give him credit as he is now widely respected,” said Mr Parry.
“History is littered with former terrorists who have become political leaders and I think Martin is the latest of that breed, and for that reason I think it’s an exactly sensible decision to have him come to our peace centre.”
The atrocity, on March 1993, also left 56 people injured and no warning was given for the attack.
No-one has been prosecuted for the bombing, while the death of the two boys sparked a public outcry in Britain and on both sides of the border in Ireland.
Mr Parry, along with Tim’s mother, Wendy Parry, has set up the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, which has since become an internationally recognised centre for resolving conflict and providing victim support.
Mr Parry earlier said he invited Mr McGuinness to speak because “part of our ethos is that we talk to everyone”.
Mr McGuinness will deliver the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace – Peace Lecture 2013 – this evening at the centre in Warrington.