Warrington peace campaigners invited to address Northern Ireland Assembly members

March 18, 2013 | Nick Taylor

Civic campaigners, Colin and Wendy Parry accompanied by Councillor Mike Hannon, Deputy Leader of Warrington Council are invited as guests of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to address a meeting of Assembly members at a lunch in Parliament Buildings, Northern Ireland.

The couple lost their son Tim in the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington and have spent twenty years campaigning for peace and founded the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace in memory of Tim and three-year-old Johnathan Ball who lost their lives following the explosion.  They inspired the development of an international Peace Centre delivering programmes to support victims of political violence and to work to challenge extremism and those who support acts of terrorism.

Councilor Mike Hannon, the deputy leader of Warrington Council, chaired the Warrington and Ireland Reconciliation Enterprise (WIRE) and has championed the cause of peace and reconciliation for twenty years.

WIRE brought together numerous organisations in Warrington and worked to further understanding between Warrington and communities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  At the same time the Parry’s established a charity that at first supported exchange visits involving young people from different communities.  In 1999, the Foundation built an iconic building, the Peace Centre in Warrington.

Mike Hannon commented: “I want to thank the assembly for inviting us especially at this time when we are coming together in commemoration to mark the 20th anniversary but also to celebrate our commitment to peace and the great many achievements during the past two decades.

“Warrington has been on a unique and remarkable journey during the past 20 years and we have forged strong friendships with many people and organisations and created lasting legacies for future generations.

“It was an honour to be part of the WIRE and to experience how it was able to turn heartbreak and disbelief into hope and reconciliation. We remained committed to our cause and united in our determination to move forward and we have gained so many new friends and partnerships along the way.

“We will never forget what happened but we will continue as ever to promote peace, reconciliation and a bright future.”

In 2002, the Foundation for Peace launched a programme called the ‘Legacy Project’ that supported victims and those affected by the troubles. The programme has developed considerably since then, reflecting changes in society and global conflict and is now called ‘Survivors for Peace’ and offers support to victims and those affected by any form of terrorism or violent conflict.  It is a unique project that is attracting global attention.  The Foundation is also a leader in preventative work tackling extremism and promoting positive community relations and social cohesion.

Colin Parry said: “This is the twentieth anniversary year following an event that changed mine and Wendy’s lives forever.  We set out to keep our son’s name alive and created the Peace Centre, an impressive building, as a fitting legacy to Tim and Johnathan.  The work that goes on inside the Peace Centre and also on an increasingly national and international basis is equally impressive.

“Survivors for Peace is unique because it enables victims to participate in carefully researched programmes where they can share their experiences with others and bring about positive change in their lives.

“We know that many people in Northern Ireland have been affected by political violence and we welcome this opportunity to again reach out our hand of friendship to the people of Northern Ireland and to update the Assembly members about our work.”

Wendy, Colin and Mike will visit the Northern Ireland Assembly the day before the 20th anniversary commemorations and will address a lunch at Parliament Buildings describing the Foundation’s work and how ‘Survivors for Peace’ could be incorporated into the planned development of a multi-million pound Peace Centre in Northern Ireland.