'The legacy of the Shankill bombing challenges us all'
In several days the 20th anniversary of the Shankill bomb attack will occur.
The thoughts, solidarity and sympathy of everyone, regardless of political or religious affiliation across Ireland will be with all of the bereaved families, and greater Shankill community, and their grief.
It was a catastrophic event which happened against a context of intense political conflict. As a result a young IRA volunteer was also killed that day. His family and community will relive deep sorrow at this time.
Sadly, even with the success of our Peace Process, none of us can undo the human loss caused. So it’s hugely important that the loss of no family affected is compounded during this period.
It’s incumbent on us all to ensure the solemnity of the anniversary is respected; that the grief and actual loss, generated by this tragedy are acknowledged and accepted.
The reality is there may never be agreement on the political narratives of the past. The real challenge is to move forward, by better understanding each other, even if we cannot politically agree.
Understanding will mean dealing with that reality, and being willing to explore expressions of tolerance and respect, even when that’s difficult to do.
The legacy of the Shankill bomb will stay with the bereaved families and our entire community for many years. It’s a legacy all republicans will share with sincere regret and sorrow.
Recently remembrance and commemoration have become a new source of division.
Now the big question for our community is whether we are willing to devise a culture of commemoration which ensures commemoration and remembrance are conducted with dignity, mutual respect, and importantly, without giving offence.
Courageous political leadership, positive engagement, new compromises and initiatives can produce such a culture of commemoration; one which promotes authentic reconciliation and a shared future.