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Jun 11, 2022Liked by Mollie Simpson

Great article ,thanks. The Manchester Evening News and the quality of its journalism was why it was always a fixture in our house when I was a child. I was so attached to it as a newspaper that I insisted my Mother sent me a few copies every month to help with my homesickness when i left to go to university in Reading. Pre Internet this was the only way to keep a connection to the city where I grew up but never returned to live.

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This is an excellent article, by a top class journalist, but the reason Liverpool was not considered a prime target by the IRA in 1996 is not because it was viewed as an 'Irish safe haven' as suggested. It was because it was simply not a high profile economic target at that time. In the mid-90s the Irish born population of Manchester was over four times the size of Liverpool's. Stockport on it's own had the same number of Irish people living within it as Liverpool. Regeneration and investment was starting to raise Manchester's profile and that fitted with the IRA's strategy at the time. The IRA was not a sentimental organisation or particularly worried about demographics. Manchester city centre was relatively accessible and less secure than central London and on an upward economic curve. The fact the nearest bomb squad was based 30 miles away can only have added to the appeal as a target.

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I don't know how many Mancunians remember exactly what they were doing on the day of the IRA bombing, but I remember very well even though I wasn't in the city centre at the time.

I was visiting friends who lived in Higher Broughton. We were all sitting in the kitchen when suddenly the unlocked but fully closed kitchen door slowly opened, and equally slowly shut again. It was a day on which there wasn't a breath of wind. It was the creepiest experience - I don't believe in ghosts and neither do my friends - but we all looked at each other in puzzlement.

It wasn't until later that day, we got home and listened to the news, and found out that the bombings took place at the time the doors of their kitchen opened of their own accord. It must have been the shockwave from the bombs. Higher Broughton is not very far from the city centre.

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Still gripping. And in some ways anticipating the Arena bombing. I was invigilating an examination. As I recall, there was an interruption, but the examination continued. Anyone one with a clearer recollection?

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