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Martin McGuinness: 'I don't expect people to forgive me for being in the IRA'

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland was greeted by protesters at the Warrington Peace Centre today.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness speaks during the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace event at the Peace Centre in Warrington.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness speaks during the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace event at the Peace Centre in Warrington.
Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE FATHER OF an IRA victim has said that although he does not forgive the terrorist group for killing his 12-year-old son, he is also happy with his decision to invite former commander Martin McGuinness to give an annual for his peace foundation.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast earlier today, Colin Parry, who set up the the Tim Parry – Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Warrington, England with his wife Wendy, said, “Forgiveness is a whole separate question…I haven’t forgiven the IRA for killing Tim nor has anybody in my family and we never will.

Nonetheless, we are pragmatic about the principles of building good relationships between communities and nations.

He said that some people have criticised his decision to invite the Deputy First Minister to the town which was bombed by the IRA in 1993.

“But, by and large, most people have been positive and said this is absolutely what you need to do if you are leading a peace foundation which proclaims the importance of talking rather than fighting,” he added.

In that sense, it is absolutely consistence with our message.

He said the invitation was given on impulse but added that he did not regret it, describing it as a “hard-headed decision”.

Commenting on McGuinness’s “significant journey”, he said that “history is littered with former terrorists who become political leaders and McGuinness is the latest of that breed”.

Parry’s son Tim was 12 years old when he was killed on 20 March 1993 in northwest England. Three-year-old Johnathan Ball also died in the attack, with another 56 injured. Nobody has been prosecuted for the murders.

Along with his wife Wendy, Colin established the Peace Centre in March 2000 with an aim to “to create a safe place where ordinary people could learn about the causes and non-violent resolution of conflict”.

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Protesters outside The Peace Centre in Warrington. (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Parry and McGuinness both acknowledged the protesters outside the centre this evening, admitting they understood why they felt aggrieved.

“People see him as the face of the IRA,” Parry told RTÉ News.

McGuinness said “his heart goes out” to those impacted by the 1993 bomb, and all those affected by The Troubles.

He told the audience that “two innocent boys very wrongly lost their lives”.

During a question and answer session, he said that he does not expect people to forgive him for being in the IRA.

“I was once in the IRA. I am now a peace builder. I don’t expect anyone to take me at my word. I expect them to take me by my deeds. he said during his lecture.”

He also accused the Real IRA of trying to destroy peace process.

Read: Parades, protests and flags on the agenda as US diplomat arrives in Belfast

More: Victim of The Troubles: We are living scars on society

Read: No public inquiry into Omagh bombing

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