Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'Bomb commemorations cause anger - we need creative way in which to remember the Troubles'

The IRA bomb in Frizell's Fish shop on the Shankill Road which killed killed nine innocent people and bomber Thomas Begley
The IRA bomb in Frizell's Fish shop on the Shankill Road which killed killed nine innocent people and bomber Thomas Begley

An event to commemorate the Shankill bomber, Thomas Begley, the IRA parade in Castlederg and the annual march dedicated to loyalist killer, Brian Robinson, all cause understandable anger and frustration in the wider community.

It is unacceptable for groups or individuals to glorify acts of violence and campaigns of terror, but perhaps there is an opportunity for the vast, peaceful majority, which does not want to celebrate murder and mayhem, to issue a challenge and to be creative in the way in which we remember the Troubles.

Would it be appropriate, for instance, to remember Thomas Begley and Brian Robinson together, with the emphasis on the tragic consequences for young people of being sucked into hatred and extremist ideology?

With more and more young men, in particular, being encouraged into conflict with the law through violent protest or dissident republicanism it would be a timely message. And it would be a reminder that attempts by the IRA or the UVF to justify their campaigns are dishonest, self-serving and wrong.

At the same time it might be possible to hold joint commemorations for other events, in order to show how terror fed even more terror, or how the whole of our community was disfigured by violence.

The Greysteel massacre could be commemorated alongside the horror of the Shankill Bomb. A commemoration could be held to remember the Enniskillen bomb as well as the deaths during Bloody Sunday. The Ballymurphy killings could be remembered alongside the soldiers killed at Narrow Water.

Perhaps by joining up some of those commemorations we can then gain a better understanding of how the whole of our society suffered and lost as a result of a period known as the Troubles, as well as reflecting on the consequences of the violence used during those periods.

It would require, for example, those organisations that ask that we focus on particular events to remember people in the security forces who lost their lives, for whom they too often show a lack of empathy.  It could also help us to teach our young people that violence is not the way forward, while building relationships and breaking down barriers.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk