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Zombie: IRA victim's father says Cranberries song is ‘not partisan' after Ireland rugby row

Dolores O'Riordan in the video for The Cranberries' 1994 hit Zombie.
Paul Ainsworth

The father of one of the victims of the Warrington bombing has said he hopes The Cranberries' track Zombie can continue to be seen as a "peace song" after its use following the recent Irish victory at the Rugby World Cup sparked social media debate.

Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim died of his injuries five days after the 1993 IRA attack, said he still sees the 1990s rock anthem as a "great gesture" by singer Dolores O'Riordan, who wrote the hit song following the bombing that also killed three-year-old Johnathan Ball.

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Zombie by The Cranberries: What is the song about?


Warrington bombing victims Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry


The playing of the song and its singing by thousands of Irish fans at the Stade de France in Paris came after Ireland defeated South Africa 13 - 8 on Saturday.

It has since climbed to number 1 in the Apple iTunes Irish singles chart.

However, the track's use has divided opinion on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), with some claiming its lyrics and meaning fail to consider the experience of nationalists during the Troubles.

The song, which reached Number 14 in the UK charts when it was released in 1994, was even dubbed a "partitionist anthem" by Cork comedian Tadhg Hickey, who claimed it showed the "complete lack of understanding" of those in the Republic to what was happening to nationalists across the border.


The Irish team celebrate after their Rugby World Cup victory against South Africa in Paris on Saturday. Picture: PA


Others have hit out at criticism of the use of the song, which became one of the Cranberries' biggest hits, with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood criticising those "trying to make it something it isn’t".

Former Ireland rugby player Trevor Ringland also spoke out at those critical of the song being sung by fans. The ex-UUP election candidate told the News Letter that those opposed to it "should look deeper at what that song was standing against, and how it also represents what we see on the sporting field".

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Colin Parry, who founded the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation charity to help work towards conflict resolution, told The Irish News what the song means to him and his family. He became aware of the track's meaning following the death of Dolores O'Riordan in 2018.

"Dolores wrote the song in memory of Tim and Johnathan, and did so in great sadness," Mr Parry said.

"Since discovering this, I have always thought it was a great gesture on her part, and one that really meant a lot to our family. I would think that although Zombie has this historical importance, its use by Irish fans is maybe just down to the fact they like the tune, and it was a popular hit song.


The Cranberries' singer Dolores O'Riordan died in 2018 at the age of 46.


"I can't imagine there was any political meaning behind it being sung on Saturday, and I'd assume that many of the fans wouldn't have been aware of sensitivities behind it. The Irish team is for the whole island, not just the Republic, and I would have thought that fans recognise the song is not partisan - it's a peace song.

"I hope it can continue to be seen that way, and any motive behind using it is based on pride in the Irish team and their achievement. It's no mean feat to beat South Africa after all. I don't see it as meaning any offense to any side, and hope it remains seen as it was intended when originally written."

In 2020, Zombie reached over 1 billion views on YouTube, making The Cranberries the first Irish band to reach the milestone.

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