Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Murder is murder, no matter how it's spun

'Not since commentator Jude Collins used a similar argument to deny that the Omagh bomb victims were murdered has such semantic dancing on the head of a pin been seen'
'Not since commentator Jude Collins used a similar argument to deny that the Omagh bomb victims were murdered has such semantic dancing on the head of a pin been seen'

Editor's Viewpoint

While we continue to search for a way to deal with the toxic legacy of the past, it is evident that those bereaved by terrorism continue to be wounded by words about their loved ones and the memories of what happened to them.

What are the chances of a truth and reconciliation mechanism when there is no consensus on the definition of a victim and, now, what can be classified as murder?

By any definition the 1974 pub bombings by the IRA, in which 21 people were killed and 220 injured, were a heinous crime and, in the minds of all right-thinking people, an act of murder.

Murder is defined as the deliberate taking of life without any justification, or the taking of life by an act of such recklessness that death was an outcome which could readily be anticipated.

Yet at the inquest into the two pub bombings a former Provisional IRA intelligence officer, Kieran Conway, refused to accept the deaths as murder, instead describing them as accidental deaths in an IRA operation that went badly wrong.

Not since commentator Jude Collins used a similar argument to deny that the Omagh bomb victims were murdered has such semantic dancing on the head of a pin been seen.

Those words must pierce the hearts of the bereaved. In their minds their loved ones were murdered by terrorists, and it cannot be excused as anything else through defences such as the claim a telephone in Birmingham was out of order, delaying a warning, or that a wrong location was given for the Omagh bomb.

Many people will also be appalled that a horror weapon of war, a decommissioned RPG-7 rocket launcher allegedly used in several IRA attacks on the security forces in Northern Ireland, is listed among auction lots at one of Dublin's leading auction houses, and a premium price is being sought because of its notorious history.

How did it escape the IRA's decommissioning of its arsenal, when all weapons were meant to be put beyond use?

This glorification of a weapon of death is in stark contrast to the action of the New Zealand government in changing its guns laws and whose Prime Minister has urged the country never to utter the name of the terrorist who killed 50 people.

If Mr Conway's comments are typical of how the IRA would approach any truth and reconciliation body, then its worth would be limited.

Belfast Telegraph

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