Belfast Telegraph

Lord Mountbatten IRA bomb blast 'indefensible,' says Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy

Ex-IRA man and Sinn Fein election candidate Conor Murphy has described the terror group's bombing of Lord Louis Mountbatten - which killed two boys aged 14 and 15 - as "indefensible".

The South Armagh Assembly election candidate was speaking on Friday's Stephen Nolan show on Radio Ulster.

Asked about the IRA's apology to civilian victims killed in the Troubles, Mr Nolan asked if Lord Mountbatten, the Queen's cousin' was considered a "non-combatant."

Mr Murphy said the bomb attack was a tragedy that was "indefensible".

"I was only a teenager at the time and was not aware of the rationale," he said.

"It was a tragedy because not only was he killed but there were other people killed that were not associated with the Royal family or with British Military or establishment.

"I presume in the eyes of those that went out at the time to kill him, viewed him as a legitimate target because he was a member of the British military."

Lord Mountbatten (79) was holidaying at his castle in Sligo in August 1979. He was on his boat with one of his twin grandsons, Nicholas (14) and 15-year-old Paul Maxwell, a local employed as a boat boy, when the bomb exploded after they had just left the fishing village of Mullaghmore.

Mr Murphy continued: "We recognise there was a great deal of hurt caused in the past, including hurt by republicans.

"Now we can pick through each incident and try to find what we think is the most poignant... and I could go over a range of incidents from a republican perspective of people hurt or damaged by the State or agents of the State but we have to find a way to get through all."

"And I have found that while I have been engaging with people, including those from the unionist community, society wants to move on and in many ways has.

"And that's not to deny those who have been hurt and are still hurting and they need support and mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

"We need the British government to cross that last line to get those mechanisms up and working."

The senior republican said that while those mechanisms would not deal with every case or every individual, it was important "to try and deal with the legacy of the conflict as best we possibly can".

He said: "It is not about drawing a line under the past, it's not about saying those incidents are gone and you can no longer remember them, but it is trying to assist people through the ongoing pain they feel."

Mr Murphy's comments come as the sister of Edgar Graham - the lawyer and unionist politician - spoke out about the refusal of Queen's law lecturer Peter Doran to condemn the murder of her brother by the IRA.

Dr Doran, the Sinn Fein candidate for Lagan Valley, expressed “profound sorrow” at the death of Mr Graham, who was a rising star within unionist politics when he was shot dead from behind on the verge of the university campus.

His sister told the News Letter it was "shameful" a fellow law lecturer would not say the murder of her brother was wrong.

Mr Murphy said republicans were committed to truth recovery and both he and the IRA would "tell the truth" over their role in the Troubles. Although he conceded he could not make all those involved reveal their actions.

He was also asked about Sinn Fein's new leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill and her decision to speak at an IRA commemoration event.

He said: "Anyone who wants to see a way forward recognises that commemoration events - as the Royal family have recognised, as the British state have recognised, as political leaders have recognised  - need to treated sensitively that people need to remember their own dead in a respectful way and we need to give space to allow people to remember their dead with dignity and respect.

"Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein have demonstrated time and time again a willingness to reach out to respect other traditions, to engage and contribute to reconciliation - not gesture politics but genuine reconciliation.

"We have met many victims, I have met members of the British Army who came into south Armagh and engaged in armed activity there and were traumatised by activity there. We have showed our respect and tried to assist them in terms of dealing with the trauma.

"Republicans, both privately and publicly have been prepared to do that all over the years because we know it is in the interests of reconciliation."

Following on from Thursday night's leaders' debate, Conor Murphy also said there was "no difference" between Michelle O'Neill's Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein.

Arlene Foster continually referred to Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein through the debate.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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