Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Outlaw terrorist memorials: Families of terror victims

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson
Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson

Memorials glorifying paramilitary killers are a toxic disease within our society and must be outlawed, the families of terror victims have said.

An organisation representing 21 victims' groups and with a combined membership of over 11,000 people has called for an immediate end to tributes to loyalist and republican paramilitaries.

They have urged politicians to block the memorials by bringing in legislation banning them, saying such tributes are insulting and hurtful to those whose loved ones were murdered.

There was a furious response to the erection of a banner to commemorate UVF killer Wesley Somerville in Moygashel, near Dungannon, last week. Somerville, who was also in the UDR, and another UVF terrorist died alongside three members of the Miami Showband in 1975 when their bomb exploded prematurely.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United (IVU) told the Belfast Telegraph: "We do not accept the warped rationale that it is acceptable for terrorism to be glorified within those communities where there is perceived to be a majority republican or loyalist population. The glorification of republican terrorism is as wrong in Crossmaglen as it is in Castlederg, and the glorification of loyalist terrorism is as wrong in Carrickfergus as it is in Cookstown.

"IVU has challenged the ruling bodies of our sports, the bands community, the education system and so-called democratic political parties on matters of terrorism idolatry. The message must ring loud and clear that there was never any justification for the use of or threat of violence in the pursuance of a political objective.

"That is the case now and that was the case in the past. A continued departure from this will condemn our people to live in constant acrimony, forever separate."

Last week the head of a body set up to promote better community relations said there was no place in modern society for memorials which caused fear and intimidation. Community Relations Council chief Peter Osborne said a united approach by political leaders was needed to tackle contentious symbolism.

"I think there's no doubt if you put on a mural an image of a masked gunman or an event during which people lost their lives, then that will create a mindset for people to feel intimidated or harassed," he said.

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