Forgive me if I don't join in on the celebrations marking 20 years since the IRA's 1994 ceasefire
The past week has seen a great deal of comment on the IRA’s tactical ceasefire called twenty years ago.
Anyone who might have recalled the fact that the Provisionals bombed Canary Wharf two years later seemed to be studiously kept away from the microphones. There certainly wasn’t any mention of Robert McCartney (murdered in 2005) and of course no one dares to speak of Paul Quinn who was murdered by the IRA in South Armagh.
There was never any justification for the campaign of terror waged by republicans and loyalists in Northern Ireland yet that is something which those who engaged in that terrorism continue to refuse to acknowledge.
Terrorism - as last month’s parade in Derrylin demonstrated – is not something which republicanism has rejected as morally wrong but rather something which would merely be a tactical mistaken given the current political climate. Rather than repudiating terrorism they continue to celebrate and lionize those who engaged in it.
The simple unspoken truth about the IRA campaign is that a return to a full-scale terror campaign very difficult not because of a change of heart by republicans but because of the events of 9/11 in the United States. After that, Irish Americans were liable to start asking difficult questions about the ethics of blowing buildings up, murdering civilians and importing weapons from Middle Eastern dictatorships in order to achieve a political goal. Those questions probably would never have occurred to them before terrorism reached their own shores in such devastating fashion.
The whole trust of the coverage over the past week or so was that we should be thankful that it is all over. Everyone seemed to forget that the murder of people because of their religion or political beliefs was always wrong. As Ann Travers observed on social media, “Peace is a right, not something we should be grateful for”.
The Troubles and the immorality of the political deal which brought them to an end – early release for terrorists and get out of jail free letters for terrorists – has left a poisonous legacy and lumbered us with a dysfunctional political system which has institutionalised division. But perhaps worst of all it has left many innocent victims believing, with more than a little justification, that their basic right to justice has been sacrificed on the altar of political progress.
So please forgive me if I don’t join the celebrations.
Belfast Telegraph Digital