Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein resurrects past pains

By Lindy McDowell

How do we handle the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland? It seems we have still no idea.

There is general condemnation of the appointment of Mary McArdle (convicted of the murder of Mary Travers) as an appointed adviser at Stormont.

But the appointment of Limavady mayor Sean McGlinchey (convicted for his role in the murders of six pensioners in Coleraine) is, we're told, a different matter because "he's been elected".

No matter what your political views, you can still see why some people might find it equally insensitive. But, it's argued, we are now post-conflict and must get over past hurts. Except that we're only post-conflict when it suits.

We are encouraged to draw lines under some bits of the past, to draw lines through others and to draw attention to others still.

So has Sinn Fein thought through its new strategy of pushing what we're encouraged to call former combatants into the political frontline?

You can see where it comes from. It's an attempt to signal to the former foot soldiers that even though the party has moved on (and even though Gerry still distances himself from ever having been in the 'Ra) that they've not been left entirely behind.

But the danger for Sinn Fein is that it also raises awareness within a whole new generation of voters of just some of the truly heinous crimes committed by the IRA.

The courageous and determined voice of Ann Travers demanding justice for her murdered young sister surely encourages other victims to speak out too.

The great swell of public sympathy, right across the community, is with those who suffered violence. Not with those who inflicted it.

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