Belfast Telegraph

Lack of regret means she's no role model

By Alban Maginness

St Cecilia's College in Derry has long enjoyed a happy reputation as a fine school producing many hundreds of well educated and capable young women. But the choice of Martina Anderson MEP as the aspirational former pupil of the day was a huge error of judgment.

Whether intentionally or not, the school elevated Martina Anderson with her IRA past into a role model that the current students should look up to and aspire to follow in their future careers. While Anderson has been democratically elected as a Sinn Fein member of the European Parliament for Northern Ireland, she carries with her a history of deep involvement in the IRA bombing campaign in England during the 1980s.

She, along with other IRA members, was convicted of conspiring to bomb civilian targets in Britain.

Despite her release under the Good Friday Agreement and the ending the IRA's immoral and counterproductive campaign of violence, she has never once renounced her involvement in it.

She has never said that the campaign of violence was wrong, and like other Sinn Fein members still believes that the campaign was justified.

If she had rejected political violence and critically reassessed her own past role in the paramilitary campaign - that did so much harm and hurt to our society - then few could object to her being so highlighted as being someone to aspire to as a role model.

But the fact that she is unrepentant about her past creates an insurmountable obstacle to being regarded as a role model that young girls should admire and follow.

The elevation of Anderson feeds into a dangerous and fake history now being swallowed whole by impressionable Catholic students about the history of the republican campaign of violence as being regrettable, yet inevitable and justified.

The great lie now being peddled is the IRA campaign was a just war against oppression. The fact is that it was contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church and was both immoral and unjustified. It was also politically counterproductive.

Some naively think in order to sustain the peace in our society that it is necessary to gloss over the past paramilitary roles of people like Martina Anderson. Her role, like that of others, cannot be glossed over and to do so is to seriously mislead current students in Catholic schools.

That is damaging to peace and reconciliation in our society.

Belfast Telegraph

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