Warrington was the turning point - Rev Kingsnorth

Rev Stephen Kingsnorth at the Town Hall with former Irish president Mary Robinson in 1996

Rev Stephen Kingsnorth

First published in News

“ALL sorts of different groups remarked that Warrington was a turning point. The fact two young boys died while they had nothing to do with the issues made people think very differently.”

The Rev Stephen Kingsnorth reflects on the role the town played in bring peace despite the heartbreak the atrosity caused in the borough.

Having only been posted in the town in September 1992 Mr Kingsnorth had just started the process of drawing in other faith leaders to work together when the IRA struck.

He said: “On the actual day I was at home and I was expecting a visitor from Devon. I got a telephone call saying switch on the TV and saw what had happened.

“I got on a moped thinking I would be able to get through the traffic and I went to the hospital.”

As the flowers built up on Bridge Street it became clear the public’s grief was building.

“We thought an event was needed in Bridge Street so we organised a service in the street,” he added. “Thousands turned up.

“I was asked to preach and I spent more time crafting that sermon than any other I have for 40 years.

“I said Warrington has declared itself a family. I always thought that was what Warrington was about. We were small enough and had that sense of togetherness that you could have an effect.”

The recognition of the strength of a community looking to find reconciliation also saw a group of the town’s clergy, including Mr Kingsnorth, invited to Derry.

He said: “I was in very strange territory living in a house were there children had been part of the IRA formally. We were there to learn all different sides of the story.

“We were recognised as listening to all sides in the story which contributed to the reconciliation agenda that Warrington as a town had.”

And while out there another bombing, on Shankill Road, Belfast, killed eight people and Mr Kingsnorth was invited to speak at a service following the attack.

Now 20 years on Mr Kingsnorth has been helping to make sure the town’s history is not forgotten with a new addition to the curriculum for Warrington pupils to be taught about the impact of the bombings on the town and the peace process.

“We need to be proud of that history and the whole reconciliation agenda.”

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