Sep 18 2013
Former IRA commander Martin McGuinness said "his heart goes out" to protesters at a peace lecture he gave in a town bombed by the terror group.
Mr McGuinness, now the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, spoke in Warrington having been invited by Colin Parry, who lost his 12-year-old son in the bombing of the town in 1993.
Mr Parry, who has since set up a peace foundation in the name of his son, said while he has not forgiven the IRA for the bombing, history was "littered" with terrorists who had now become peace-makers.
A small band of around 12 demonstrators stood outside the venue protesting at Mr McGuinness' speech at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace.
Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine, 18, was killed in the Birmingham pub bombings, compared Mr McGuinness giving a talk on peace with "asking Myra Hindley to give a talk on child protection".
Speaking before the speech, Mr McGuinness said he "understood" the objections and described the path to peace as a "journey."
"My heart goes out to them because they too are people that have suffered as a result of the conflict in the north of Ireland," he said.
"I fully appreciate that there are other people who don't feel able to make that journey. I would be the last to criticise them. My heart goes out to all the victims of the conflict. I feel very compassionate to all of them. We need to be sorry for everything that happened with the people involved in the conflict."
In his speech Mr McGuinness spoke about his own and Ulster's journey to peace and his hopes for the future.
"I was once in the IRA. I am now a peace builder," he said. "It has been a journey which has involved much hurt and pain. I have followed many coffins and stood beside many grieving families in the years since."