MID Ulster MLA and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness is due to give a lecture on peace in a town where the terror group carried out one of its most shocking outrages of the Troubles.
Mr McGuinness, now the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, was invited to speak in Warrington by Colin Parry, who lost his son in the bombing of the town.
Tim Parry, 12, was fatally injured and Johnathan Ball, three, was killed instantly when bombs planted in litter bins in the town’s main shopping area were detonated shortly after midday on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
No warning was given and no one has been prosecuted for the outrage on March 20, 1993 that left 56 people injured.
Johnathan was in the town with his babysitter to buy a card for Mother’s Day, the next day, when he was killed.
Tim, an Everton fan, had been shopping for football shorts when he caught the full force of the explosion. He died in his father’s arms five days later in Liverpool’s Walton Hospital.
The death of the two boys sparked a public outcry in the UK and on both sides of the border in Ireland.
Mr Parry and Tim’s mother, Wendy Parry, have set up the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, which has since become an internationally recognised centre for conflict resolution and victim support.
Mr Parry has said he invited the Sinn Fein politician to speak because “part of our ethos is that we talk to everyone”.
On the 20th anniversary of the bombing earlier this year Mr Parry said the bombing was “futile” but did further the cause of peace by leading to a sea-change in attitudes on both sides of the divide and giving fresh impetus to the peace process.
Mr McGuinness has previously met Mr Parry and visited the town for private meetings.
During a visit in 2001 he said he was sorry that Irish republicans were responsible for the boys’ deaths and that the bombing had been wrong.
Mr McGuinness will give the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace - Peace Lecture 2013 this evening at the centre in Warrington.