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Eyewitness in Manchester masthead
Issue number 11 Monday the 31st of March 1997

R2 protesters camp out on the ground and in the trees at the Flywood Anti Aviation Camp, near Manchester Airport, whilst airliners take to the air from the existing runway less than half a mile away.
R2 protesters camp out on the ground and in the trees at the Flywood Anti Aviation Camp, near Manchester Airport, whilst airliners take to the air from the existing runway less than half a mile away.

Two IRA bombs exploded near the railway station at Wilmslow early Wednesday morning. No-one was injured, though there was massive disruption all day to roads and rail services in the area. A warning was phoned to an elderly woman member of the public, who then contacted the police. Local people spoke of two loud bangs which were clearly audible from some distance away. The first device went off at 6.30 am and the second at 7.05. The first was planted near a signal relay box, and police suspect that the second was intended to injure members of the emergency services.

An enquiry has been launched by the police, who praised the people of Wilmslow for their co-operation during the incident. On Friday morning the IRA admitted responsibility for the Wilmslow attack in a phone call to RTE, the Irish state broadcasting network, in Dublin. The caller was anonymous and used an IRA code word.

The question asked by most people was "Why Wilmslow?". The attractive Cheshire commuter town seems a world away from trouble spots and sectarian strife, but it may be that an IRA "cell" is operating in north-west England. IRA terrorists killed two children in Warrington in 1993, and were responsible for last year's bomb in Manchester, estimated to have cost insurers in excess of 400 million pounds.

If the IRA wanted to disrupt the rail system, they failed: Inter-City services between Manchester and London operated as normal via Macclesfield. The day after, Wilmslow had returned to normal, though with a moodof solidarity among the people and a determination not to let terrorism succeed.

Just a few miles from Wilmslow along the A538, Manchester Airport continues to occupy a prominent place in the local news.

Anti Runway 2 protesters have stepped up their campaign against the construction of the 172m project.

On Thursday at Manchester Crown Court, the protesters were given a reprieve of two weeks against being evicted from land in the path of the new runway. And on Easter Monday it was announced that eco-protester and tunneller Swampy, alias Daniel Hooper, is to stand in the general election and launch his own manifesto, though this later transpired to be an April Fool's Day hoax.

The Airport has already won government approval for the new runway, but protesters hope that by placing as many obstacles as possible in the way of the development, they may be able to postpone it, and perhaps even stop it from going ahead.

A website was recently put online by the Coalition Against Runway 2, and Manchester Airport continues to publicise its plans for the new Runway in the Manchester Airport website Hot News section.

The MP for the Tatton constituency, local to Wilmslow and the Runway 2 site, is under increasing pressure to resign due to his alleged involvement in the "cash for questions" row. He is accused of accepting money from Harrods owner Mohammed Al-Fayed for putting questions in the House of Commons. He denies the accusations.

Nearly 200 people have taken a special flight from Manchester Airport to get a closer look at the Hale-Bopp comet. The sell-out flight, costing 125 per seat, enabled passengers to get a view from 37,000 feet, unhindered by weather dust and the orange glare of street lighting.

The Easter Monday weather has been perfect, with glorious sunshine and blue skies, temperature still a little on the cold side. Earlier in the week it was also cold, with both clear and overcast weather. As in previous months, the rainfall has been very low.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


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