As our hearts are, naturally, grieved for the many who not only lost their lives in the jihadist attack in the Manchester Arena, but also for their grieving relatives, as well as those who have a multitude of injuries to (hopefully) recover from, we cannot but be conscious of the comparison which this sinful deed bears with our own Province’s tragic past.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine there is any depth to the words spoken by the Sinn Fein leader, expressing sympathy to the families of those murdered, and injured, in this despicable outrage.
Never before did they express sorrow, or sympathy to the grieving families of victims created by their own murderous acts.
How ironic, to say they are sorry for the people of Manchester, when they bombed the city themselves. Their hypocrisy knows no limits.
That the unionist people of Northern Ireland are asked to display sentiments of equality, integrity and respect to this organisation is a bridge too far. The calls for legacy inquests for a small percentage of the Troubles deaths is only a part of their overall plan for the coming years.
Let it be clearly understood, every death is regrettable, no one wishes to see anyone lose a loved one, whatever the circumstances. But to equate those who brought about the deaths of a relatively few people, killed in the course (chiefly) of civil disturbances, by, often, young soldiers many of whom may well have been encountering their first experience of combative action, with those who brought an end to the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of innocent people during the troubles, is beyond belief.
How are we to compare the response of a soldier in a riot situation with that of a two, or three man gang, who set out to ring a door bell,and shoot dead an innocent man (or sometimes, woman) on their own doorstep?
Or how are we to overlook the guilt of those responsible for the Oxford Street Bus Station bombing, or La Mon, or Enniskillen, or any of a host of other atrocities; and feel it is justifiable to pursue men in their latter years of life, who stood between the terrorists (on both sides) and the general public?
If the unionists , or the British government, cave in to the call for legacy inquests, or the Irish Language Act, the battle is lost. Better to live with whatever extra burdens there are with direct rule than to give way to the arm-twisting tactics of those whose aim is the destruction of Ulster, and the union with Britain.
Better to have no Assembly, than one where the unionists are mere puppets on the Sinn Fein string.
The DUP need to think long and hard before they ever again enter into government on the wrong terms. The people will only endure so much, before their support is lost, for good.
In the meantime, we pray for Manchester’s grieving hundreds, and remind ourselves, we have walked this road ourselves in the past.
Let us not allow those who made it happen, to gain the victory now.
God will deal with the guilty in His time. For now, we need to protect what little we have left to protect.
Gordon McNeill, Portadown