IRA Bombs Warrington
For most of Britain The Troubles in Northern Ireland were a tribal conflict that happened somewhere else. London was often targeted; Birmingham suffered a devastating series of attacks; and Manchester’s centre was destroyed. But for the majority of us living in smaller cities, towns and villages there was a sense of detachment from the horror. For Warrington that changed in early 1993.
On February 26 a three-man IRA gang bombed a gasworks in the town, shooting a policeman as they escaped. That gang was quickly captured. Less than a month later, however, two more bombs exploded in the town centre on a busy shopping street. More than 50 people were injured, some horrifically, as the devices had been carefully placed in cast-iron bins where they became giant grenades that sent shrapnel through the crowds. And tragically two children were murdered by the March 20 blasts: three-year-old Johnathan Bell died at the scene; 12-year-old Tim Parry held on to life until March 25, the most innocent victims imaginable.
Perhaps the attack on a rather anonymous Cheshire town was planned by the leaders of the IRA to bring what it called ‘the struggle’ closer to middle England, middle Britain. Or maybe it was a soft target far from the normal view of the security services. Perhaps the child-killers excuse themselves by remembering that they telephoned a warning – just 14 minutes before the first explosion, and citing Liverpool not Warrington. But it is to be hoped that those killers, who have still not been found, never pass a day without remembering their victims.
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