Trevor Ringland: Legacy of violence is why I did not go to Dublin

We will not agree on whether 1916 Rising, centred on the GPO above, was needed
We will not agree on whether 1916 Rising, centred on the GPO above, was needed

On the 100th anniversary of Easter 1916, it was concerning that police on both sides of the border said dissident republicans were intent upon marking the event with a fresh campaign of murder, even following the terrible murder of the prison officer, father, husband and community volunteer, Adrian Ismay.

It is unlikely that we will ever reach historical agreement about whether violence 100 years ago was necessary for the Republic of Ireland to gain its ultimate independence.

This is why I could not attend any of the commemorations/celebrations in Dublin.

However, the idea that it was justified is a narrative underpinning the story of the state, a place its citizens rightly have much pride in. Like the whole island, it is a beautiful place and the people, when you press the right buttons, have tremendous qualities.

Surely though, we are failing ourselves, our young people and future generations if we do not agree that the idea that following partition violence was or remains a justifiable method to seek to bring about constitutional unity between the two parts of the island is indefensible.

The ‘Decade of Commemorations’ could justifiably be argued as being a period when we could not have got our relationships more wrong, in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and across these islands.

As we look to the future, friendship should be our weapon of choice, guided by many good examples where it has been successful in building relationships and breaking down barriers.

It is time for political leaders across our island to acknowledge that position unequivocally, disavowing discrimination and the tradition of the gun without ambiguity.

If those leaders can apologise for the hurt and distrust caused by all sides, we could all look forward to the next one hundred years with more hope and fewer recriminations.

Trevor Ringland, Holywood