Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Feelings of victims' relatives must be respected

As ever, the past is a raw issue in Northern Ireland, and while we may be moving hopefully towards a peaceful era, if not entirely so, the sores of history still fester.

This has been made clear again this week with the reactions on both sides during the anniversary of the Shankill bombing.

The people of the area reacted with dignity in commemorating their loved ones, and republicans paid tribute to the dead bomber Thomas Begley, but in a way which could only have added to the hurt of the victims' families.

One of the bombers, Sean Kelly, apologised for the Shankill atrocity, and just before the commemorations of the Greysteel massacre begin next week, the loyalist killer Torrens Knight has apologised for his part in the murders there.

These apologies mark a kind of progress, though many people may doubt their sincerity.

For the victims and their families such apologies are no consolation.

Inevitably we are still confronted by the tragic legacy of the Troubles, and this is likely to continue.

The relatives of those killed in the Miami Showband massacre intend to sue the Ministry of Defence over alleged collusion, while on the other hand the MLA Gerry Kelly is raking over the past in a book giving his highly personal view of the Maze break-out in which people were killed and injured.

So it goes on.

While people are entitled to remember the past in their own way, there will be no shortage of events to commemorate – and these are often with political and community overtones.

The sad fact remains that so often the forgotten people in all of this are many of the victims and their families.

They include, for example, the partner and young daughter of a taxi driver who was murdered by loyalists in 1993 when she was only five weeks old, and whose story we highlighted in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph.

Above all, these are the people, and so many others like them, whose feelings must be respected by all of us, and at all times.

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