Dublin sends Warrington flowers and sympathy

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(First Edition)

MESSAGES signed by factory workers, musicians, schoolchildren and shop assistants; hundreds of bouquets and every size and shape of teddy bear relayed sympathy for the bereaved of Warrington, writes Alan Murdoch.

Offerings for the shrine at St Stephen's Green in central Dublin began appearing 24 hours before its organisers had advertised. Messages attached to the bouquets echoed the 'not in our name' sentiment that recurred throughout speeches at Wednesday's anti-IRA rally in Trinity College Dublin.

The collection of flowers to be sent to today's funeral of Johnathan Ball was the idea of the non-party New Consensus group, which opposes all political violence. The news of the death of Timothy Parry, the second victim of the Warrington bombs, and the shootings in Northern Ireland brought more gifts. Drivers in the rush hour last night sounded their horns as they passed.

Messages on the bouquets read: 'Please forgive us. The IRA do not represent the Irish people.' And: 'To the people of Warrington - deepest sympathy. They do not speak for us.'

There were large decorative displays from the famous; small handfuls from the unknown. A beautiful array of white daisies and blue irises from the veteran singers The Dubliners was tied to the railings of Stephen's Green alongside scores of others when the ground was covered. Some were fixed on the green's gates, beneath the stone arch on which are carved the names of Irishmen killed fighting for the British Army in the First World War.

Beside an offering from the playwright Hugh Leonard and his wife, Paula, was a bunch whose card read: 'From the senior boys and staff, St Joseph's School for the Visually Impaired, Dublin.' Another was from Paudge, son of the late author and one-time IRA man Brendan Behan. It expressed sympathy in the name of Paudge's mother, the artist Beatrice Behan, who died last week. Trade unions, telephone depots, scout troops and workers at a clothing factory all sent offerings.

Women formed the large majority of those signing the book of condolences, one of several that have attracted tens of thousands of names in the last three days. But many fathers of young children also stopped to sign.

There was a message in coloured crayon, inscribed by a child barely able to write. Beside a picture of himself he had written: 'I am very sorry. Bobby, Dublin, Eire.'