I have no difficulty with any family member or friend wishing to remember a loved one, even if that loved one killed himself in a misguided terrorist campaign. However, to commemorate this publicly is utterly uncivilized, and grievously and gratuitously offensive to those he chose to murder. That is what is happening with Thomas Begley.
It is also challenging to the narrative of all sides.
After all, Sinn Fein now opposes those seeking to maim and murder for the sake of “Irish freedom”, yet its own President (he who also chose to remain silent over child abuse, lest we forget) carried Begley’s coffin.
Unionists will also no doubt express outrage – yet were unable to do similar over a parade a few weeks ago to commemorate Loyalist terrorist and sectarian murderer Brian Robinson.
This uncivilization is one of the reasons we do actually have to deal with the past. Failure to drive home the message that all terrorist campaigns from 1968 were illegitimate and bound to fail will lead to the continuation of such gratuitously offensive outrages (and thus the potential re-start of terrorist campaigns). Although it will not happen tomorrow, we have to move towards the stage where all sides accept that democracy is the way forward in 2013 – and always was. After all, if we fail to learn the lessons of history, we know what happens.
In short, it is time we all became civilized.