Today, Friday 20th March 2020, is the 27th anniversary of the Warrington bombing. It is a day when (in normal circumstances) the families, people affected, and the local and regional community (councillors, the mayor, faith leaders, sporting teams) come together to commemorate the bombs that led to the death of 12-year-old Tim Parry, three-year-old Johnathan Ball, young mother Bronwen Vickers, and seriously injured 54 people as well as affecting over 2,000 people on the street. The then Prime Minister, Sir John Major, described the provisional IRA bombing as a pivotal moment during the peace process on our islands. It was an incident that sent ‘shock waves’ across the UK and Republic of Ireland and the call of ‘enough is enough’ brought mass rallies onto the streets of London, and most notably, the streets of Dublin.
It created a civic led reaction that sought reconciliation between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and two years later, inspired by Colin and Wendy Parry, the inauguration of the Peace Foundation. The charity is 25-years-old this year. In 2000, 20-years-ago, they opened the ‘living memorial’ Peace Centre. The Peace Foundation work is unique in creating a support service for all survivors of terrorism in Great Britain, a civil society organisation with the most incredible range of counter terrorism safeguarding, counter extremism, community cohesion and integration programmes; working with young people, families, those most vulnerable, and in the ‘hard to reach’ and sensitive towns and cities across the country.
From so much tragedy, hope came, and, in what would be Tim’s 40th birthday year, he, along with Johnathan, have truly created a legacy for hope and peace in our times.
There will be no ceremony today, but many people will observe their own private moment of reflection and commemoration BUT they will also celebrate the amazing achievements of the past quarter of a century.
Colin and Wendy Parry, our Founders will visit the Peace Centre to see the work we are doing to help the NHS emergency effort during the present crisis, they will spend private time with their family, but they are also faced with the fact that their Foundation’s funding from Government has not been secured from the 1st April. They have received assurances from four members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister in an answer he gave in the House of Commons on 11th March. However, officials and advisers have failed to act. The charity has eleven days until it has to wind down to closure. Today, Colin, Wendy and their family will write to the Prime Minister to ask him to instruct officials to act to secure the work of the Peace Foundation. This will be delivered to Downing Street at lunchtime.
Although we, as a nation, are focused on one subject at present, the consequences for Geo politics, international security, and the stability and resilience of our communities, is off the scale. The rhetoric of ‘war’ is high in the political response to Covid 19 and the ‘fight’ against the virus, but ultimately as we move forward, the world will never quite be the same again, and it is important that those who are decision makers, those who advise, and all of us commit to working towards a peaceful society. So, today please offer your support to Colin and Wendy and all affected by the Warrington attack and join us in asking the Prime Minister to act to secure the future of the Peace Foundation, Peace Centre and the legacy of Tim and Johnathan who we remember today.