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Patrick Kielty a testament to Troubles victims' grit

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 20/11/2015

Patrick Kielty in his interview with Eamon Mallie
Patrick Kielty in his interview with Eamon Mallie

The words of comedian Patrick Kielty in this newspaper today should be required reading for many people in Northern Ireland. For his is the authentic voice of someone who was cruelly bereaved as a teenager in our ghastly Troubles when a loyalist terror gang shot dead his father.

They are thoughtful words, but beneath them one can still sense - after almost 30 years - the hurt he still feels about the death.

Candidly, he admits he does not forgive the killers, but he accepts that the situation now is far removed from then.

He says he has shaken the hands of the godfathers of the organisation that carried out the murder, but that is never excusing what they, or others on their behalf, did.

His comments go right to the heart of the vexatious problem of dealing with the legacy of the past, shelved yet again in the latest agreement forged at Stormont. His father's murder was just one of thousands, and his feelings could be echoed by thousands more of the relatives left behind.

There is a feeling or perception that the bereaved should somehow keep giving - even keep forgiving - because of the necessity of putting the past behind us.

But why should that dreadful onus be put on them? Have the men of terror really repented for what they did?

There have been apologies but, yet, we still have paramilitary organisations strutting on the streets, which somehow makes their words of apology ring hollow.

There remains an ocean of tears in this province from those bereaved, yet the remarkable thing is that so many of those so grievously hurt have swallowed their feelings for what is the greater good.

And, shamefully, their silence has been barely rewarded, if at all.

Paddy Kielty is correct about something else. Getting out of Northern Ireland and seeing something of the rest of the world does give a different perspective.

His questioning of why people who regard themselves as moderates still stand for A Soldier's Song - the Republic's anthem, and what he calls a rebel-rousing tune - and other similar songs glorifying past violence should make us all think.

Are we, however unwittingly, handing on a legacy that is completely out of tune with today's changed Ireland - on both sides of the border?

Belfast Telegraph

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