In 1993there were two IRA bombs in Warrington. The first was in February. The IRA set off the first bomb at the Winwick Road gas works. Later, other devices were found at the scene. It is believed that if all of the bombs had gone off, then most of North Warrington could have been destroyed. The two men, who had planted the bomb, were stopped in their Van by P. C. Mark Toker, but he was gunned-down – though not fatally. They were arrested on the M62 after a car chase and linked to the provisional IRA. The second bombs exploded outside of Boots and the other McDonalds.
Before the attacks at 11:58am a telephone call was received by Liverpool Samaritans claiming that a bomb would be set off outside of Boots Liverpool; not Boots Warrington, like the Provisionals later claimed. During the attacks two young boys were killed. Timothy Parry aged 12 and Jonathon Ball aged 3 were killed in the blast. However, may more were wounded – some people even had to have limbs amputated. The majority of Irish Unionists and Loyalists were disgusted at the atrocities carried out by the Provisional IRA.
The killing of the two boys pushed them towards a peaceful resolution. A letter in a Newspaper at the time shows the feelings of the Irish Unionists and Loyalists towards the nationalists: ‘… Us Irish are not all like the people that did the dreadful bombing in Warrington… No words are strong enough to condemn the sort of people who go around bombing and killing innocent people. ‘(Mr and Mrs Glass – Irish Unionists)
The Chairman of the Armagh District, the then W. G. McCatney, wrote a letter to the people of Warrington saying: I would express our solidarity with the people of Warrington at this time of suffering following the horrific IRA bomb explosion. ‘ This shows that most ordinary Unionists wanted peace. However, this is contrasted by many loyalist paramilitaries, such as the UFF UVF. These groups do not seem to be totally influenced by the bombings at Warrington. They appeared to be more interested and influenced by ‘tit-for-tat’ killings on their own territory; such as when 3 Catholics were killed in a Chip shop in revenge for the death of 2 Protestants.
Even though most Loyalists and Unionists wanted peace more than ever, that does not mean that they wanted ‘peace at any price’. Although, most saw the Provisional IRA’s promise of a ceasefire in 1994, as a very good chance at peace. However, some were suspicious as they believed that unless the IRA decommissioned, they would still carry out attacks. This issue of decommissioning led to further violence in February 1996 with the London Docklands bombing.
Extremist Ulster Loyalists, such as Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist party, saw the Warrington bombings as further proof, that their could be no negotiating with the ‘fiendish republican scum’. Similar views had been held by most ordinary Nationalists. An Irish Newspaper, which was in favour of a united Ireland, separate from Britain, wrote: ‘The vast majority of the people of Ireland are firmly opposed to the use of violence for political ends… the Irish are a warm and generous people… ‘ This shows that most Irish were opposed to the use of violence.
They further wanted to show that most Irish people were not like the paramilitaries. The Irish Times furthered the point by saying that the ‘IRA is not Irish, not Republican and not in any sense an Army’. This shows that most Nationalists were turned more towards a peaceful settlement, by the Warrington bombing. It was not only the Public that was turned more towards peace. Sinn Fein’s Leader, Gerry Adams, was now preaching abandoning the ‘bullet’ and using the ‘ballot’ box. The Warrington bombing also contributed to the 1993 ‘Downing Street Declaration’.
Prior to the Warrington Bombing the IRA held considerable support. However, with the murder of the two boys, the Provisional IRA’s popularity dropped considerably. This disaster pushed the Provo’s towards a peaceful settlement. The IRA’s claim that a warning had been given and that the deaths of the two boys, were acceptable – though unfortunate – during ‘War’; was disregarded by most.
In 1993, IRA funding started to decrease, as the-then American President Clinton came to power and following a letter from the Warrington MP’s stating: ‘… here has been some confusion in Britain over your policy to Northern Ireland, and worries that your administration is not as quick to condemn the IRA as it might be. We would be grateful to hear your views and policy on the Northern Ireland question. ‘ brought Gerry Adams to the USA to stop Americans of Irish descent, from donating to NORAID which funded the IRA. By July 1994the Provo’s were thinking of achieving peace ‘through the ballot box not the bullet. ‘ This led to the Provisional IRA declaring a further ceasefire on 31st August 1994.
However, there were still some extremists that were not affected by the Warrington Bombing. These people did not accept a peaceful solution and formed the ‘Continuity/Real IRA’. These men were not affected by the murder of the two young boys and carried on bombing. Notable examples of bombings claimed by the ‘Real IRA’ are the IRA bombing on Arndale, Manchester and the London Docklands. In general the atrocities did help to turn those living in Ulster to peace. Only those extreme individuals, who want nothing but a Unified Ireland or and Ireland governed from Westminster, were unaffected.