Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

18 July 2002 Edition

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Durkin's cheap shot

The unilateral IRA statement apologising for the deaths of non-combatants for which it was responsible is a reflection of the strength of republican leadership.

The usual unionist suspects delivered their well-rehearsed pious negative reactions, but better was expected of SDLP leader Mark Durkin. Instead of welcoming the IRA's move for the positive gesture it was, Durkin used the opportunity to launch a vitriolic attack on republicans, a crass contribution obviously made for electoral reasons.

He chose to ignore that the IRA, in offering its sincere apologies and condolences to the families, has asserted its commitment to the peace process and its desire to create a situation where everyone in the community can enjoy the benefits of freedom, justice and peace in Ireland.

The legacy of any war has been suffering and death and this is a welcome step forward in promoting the politics of peace and justice.

It is of the utmost importance that all elected representatives endeavour to find solutions to our problems instead of constantly making deadlines and ultimatums which only serve to perpetuate division.

Apologies cannot erase the hurt and suffering inflicted but we should all recognise, including the SDLP leader, that this statement reinforces the need for politics to be seen to work.

Britain's culpability

Coming as it did, before the 30th anniversary of Bloody Friday, the IRA statement was particularly appropriate, but little attention has been paid to another 30-year-old anniversary.

Kate Duffy's brother, IRA Volunteer Seamus Cassidy, was shot dead on 28 July 1972 by a British Army sniper as he sat in his car, unarmed. Kate's 15-year-old child, Seamus Duffy, was shot dead by an RUC plastic bullet on 9 August 1989, the 31st child to be killed by the Crown forces since August 1969.

A spokesperson for Relatives for Justice, Kate said this week that an apology from the British government in respect of its actions during the conflict would be "completely insufficient", given that the British government have always maintained that the actions of their forces were completely justifiable.

An apology in the absence of acknowledgement, recognition and acceptance of full culpability for its illegal actions, in contravention of international standards of human rights, would be meaningless, she said.

Duffy added that for the victims of state and state-sponsored violence, it is much more reprehensible and repugnant that a government which has a sworn duty to uphold the law and protect its citizens was actively engaged in plotting and taking the lives of its citizens, whilst at the same time covering it up and protecting the perpetrators.

An Phoblacht
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