The appointment of terrorist Mary McArdle as a Special Adviser without notification to the family of her victim, the demand to release terrorist Gerry McGeough in the presence of his victim, and the naming of a play park after terrorist Raymond McCreesh as the Kingsmill memorial was desecrated represent a new low for post-Agreement Irish Nationalism – not least because Sinn Fein as a party of government signed up to all three and even the supposedly “Constitutional” SDLP signed up to the last two.
We do have to tolerate terrorists being release back into society – it is what we agreed in 1998. We may, reluctantly, have to tolerate never getting to the full truth – it is a consequence of what we agreed in 1998, given that Sinn Fein must be in government. But we must never, ever lose our moral compass to such an extent that we tolerate the open taunting of victims.
Ann Travers has represented herself superbly on the issue of special advisers – a hugely complex issue in which I can easily see both sides, but in which the effectively open taunting of Ann and her family was unnecessary and outrageous. It is right that Ms McArdle was removed from post.
Sammy Brush too has represented himself superbly, recovering from the attack on his life to play a prominent role in his local community as an elected representative (and in other ways). What he has had to go through recently – the open support by fellow Councillors of the man convicted of trying to murder him followed by a disgraceful and terrorising attack on his home – constitutes a direct taunting of a truly sinister kind. This terrible series has gone too far to be reversed, but it must act as a clear example of how not to treat a victim. I trust Cllr Brush has received individual apologies and notes of remorse from fellow Councillors at the very least.
The families of the victims of the Kingsmill massacre – an brutal, appalling and openly sectarian outrage – have been collectively taunted in more ways than one also, not least by the unbelievable decision to name a play park after someone widely accepted to be directly implicated. This decision must be instantly reversed.
Some truly terrible things happened in our past. We may have to accept that justice will never fully be done, and that the truth will never fully be told. But, as a guiding principle, let us ensure the victims and their families are never again taunted.