Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Pain of La Mon still palpable 40 years on

Editor's Viewpoint

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles - the IRA bombing of La Mon Hotel in the Castlereagh hills above Belfast.

Twelve people were killed and another 23 injured when a huge fireball swept through a hall where a collie dog club was holding a function.

Those sitting down for dinner could never have imagined that they would be the target of even the most warped terrorists. The horror of that night has meant La Mon is remembered when many other atrocities have faded among the 3,000-plus deaths of the Troubles.

Today one of the survivors of La Mon makes a very pertinent point about the recent failed talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

There was much talk about an Irish Language Act and same-sex marriage legislation, but little about how to deal with the legacy of the past.

Part of the reason is that there is no common narrative on the issue. Even the definition of who is a victim is controversial at times. But in cases like La Mon, McGurk's, Kingsmill, Greysteel, Darkley, Claudy, Bloody Friday and Bloody Sunday, there is no controversy. These were people who were killed without a scintilla of reason or excuse. And there are hundreds more who can be classified as uncontested victims and whose relatives, like those survivors of La Mon, still demand to know the truth.

The passage of time, the death of witnesses and the loss of vital evidence as the security apparatus was decommissioned are all factors which make unravelling the past a difficult task, but all the bereaved want is for it to be approached with vigour and determination.

Instead, the parties wrestle with concepts like respect for each other and draw up their red lines, which prove insurmountable.

Yet the legacy of the past should be a red line that neither party should be allowed to ignore and which should be a compelling reason for them to restore devolution.

Terrorism caused enormous chasms in society and its toxic legacy continues to drip its poison down the generations.

We cannot condemn some of those who were bereaved for harbouring animosity, but we can hit out at the lack of action by politicians locally and nationally to fund proper investigations of atrocities like La Mon and attempt to bring some solace, perhaps even closure, to those who have suffered for too long.

Belfast Telegraph

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