Manchester remembers 16th anniversary of IRA’s Arndale bombing

By Claire Holden

Yesterday marked 16 years since the IRA detonated a devastating bomb in Manchester’s city centre.

Despite there being nearly 80,000 people in the city at the time of the explosion, no one was killed.

There were 200 people injured with many being taken to hospital with severe glass wounds.

The bomb exploded at 11.20am on Corporation Street, just outside the Arndale Centre, leaving the street and surrounding area obliterated, other than the one surviving iconic crimson post box.

Granada Studios received a telephone call just an hour and a half earlier, warning of the presence of a bomb.

The caller had an Irish accent and gave a codeword so that police would know the threat was genuine.

Reacting to the anniversary on Twitter, @lougeorge said: “Bomb went off as I was en route to Manc to visit girlfriend. We watched Euro 96 in pub as relatives tried to contact us!”

Another Twitter user @Macarter79 said that although she had not been in the city centre at the time, a friend had walked past the van containing the explosives, while another worked in the Nike shop across from Marks & Spencer.

She Tweeted: “TODAY at 11.16am 16 years ago The IRA detonated a bomb that blew up the city centre of Manchester!! It was a very scary day for us all!!”

To date the cost of the damage estimated by insurance firms has reached almost £1 billion.

According to Home Office statistics, an estimated 400 businesses within half a mile of the blast were affected, 40% of which did not recover.

Massive sections of the northern part of the city have since been rebuilt, including the world’s biggest Marks & Spencer store and a large portion of the Arndale Centre.

Reacting to the travesty, John Major, the Prime Minister at the time of the attack, said: “We shall spare no effort to bring those responsible to justice.”

The only people arrested in connection with the bomb were a reporter and a senior police officer.

DCI Gordon Mutch, an investigating officer, was suspected of leaking classified Special Branch documents naming the suspects to the chief crime reporter for the Manchester Evening News, Steve Panter.

To date there have been no convictions for those responsible for the attack.

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