Belfast Telegraph

Credit to mayor for attending memorial

Editor's Viewpoint

It is easy to forget just how long some survivors of terrorist atrocities or those bereaved by the gunmen or bombers have lived with their grief. The ceremony held in Coleraine yesterday was in remembrance of a double car bombing in the town which killed six people and injured another 30, 45 years ago.

One of those attending had been a 10-year-old girl when her grandmother was killed that terrible day. Now she is the same age as her grandmother was then and is also a grandmother. The inexorable march of time may have dulled the memories of most people of specific atrocities, but those caught up in them can never forget the impact on their subsequent lives.

Yesterday's ceremony was partly to reassure those bereaved or injured that they have not been forgotten, nor have the foul deeds that were carried out that day.

The bombings were carried out by the IRA, but credit should be given to Brenda Chivers, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council which organised the event, to stick by her promise and represent all the people of the area by attending the ceremony.

Indeed, Sinn Fein had helped ensure the ceremony would be held, by abstaining when the vote on the issue was taken, thus making certain it would be passed.

Given that a current Sinn Fein councillor, Sean McGlinchey, served 18 years in prison after being convicted of involvement in the bombing, these moves by Sinn Fein are heartening.

The party has been accused of glorifying the deeds of the IRA and causing pain by naming a children's play park in Newry after a convicted terrorist who went on to die on hunger strike.

Some people may have been uncomfortable at the presence of the Sinn Fein mayor at the ceremony in Coleraine, but she performed her duties in a respectful manner.

She has shown that it is possible to retain republican credentials and yet acknowledge through her presence that past actions by the IRA caused deep and enduring pain and grief to fellow citizens of Northern Ireland.

Hers was a mature and sensitive approach to an event which deserved to be remembered as one of the too many dark days which this province endured during three decades of conflict.

It would be the sincere hope of many in this province that Sinn Fein will regard this as the way to react to similar commemorations in future in all areas of the province.

Belfast Telegraph

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