Martin McGuinness last week laid a wreath at the site of the Battle of the Somme.
“The green fields of France where the red poppies dance,” was immortalised by the Irish group The Fureys and Davy Arthur, but Mr McGuinness thought a laurel wreath more appropriate.
Why, may one ask, is he doing this? He is quoted as stating: “My duty is to represent everybody and I think it is very important that we all step out of our comfort zones and that we do recognise that reconciliation is the next important phase of the peace process.”
Very magnanimous words from someone who’s very being is based on the destruction of all things British, and we could question has this gentleman made the ultimate conversion.
Mr McGuinness recognises that reconciliation is an important part of any peace process. Yet, one must ask how do we reconcile the families of the victims of the slaughter at the Enniskillen Cenotaph in 1987?
These good people were there to celebrate and remember the sacrifices made in the past for the good of the future. How can we reconcile the people of North Fermanagh when the IRA attempted to murder scores of children in Tullyhommon on the same day.
When do we expect Mr McGuinness to explain or answer the questions being asked of his knowledge of these two attacks? How can we reconcile the thousands of Irish veterans in the RoI who tried to remember their comrades but were prevented from doing so for many years, by being victimised and attacked by Irish Republicans.
The memorial gardens in Islandbridge in Dublin are still treated as an embarrassment and hidden away in the corner of the park. Remembrance Sunday should be a RoI occasion too - thousands of Irishmen fought and lost their lives in the armed forces of the UK. But these volunteers (there was no conscription in Ireland) were disowned, firstly by republicans and then by successive Irish governments.
Martin McGuinness has been lauded for his honesty for admitting to his IRA past, whist his comrade, the venerable Mr Adams is ridiculed for his denials – yet what really has he admitted to?
He flatly refused during Saville to name others or explain his role as he was bound by a code, yet he denied his knowledge of the IRA ‘green book’ when he was in the IRA. He appears to believe that it was okay to admit to being a member in the early 70s when it was a ‘popular rising’ fighting perceived injustices, but not so in the more recent years.
In any definition of reconciliation, truth will appear, and unfortunately, without truth, it is impossible to reconcile. Therefore his words ring hollow without that honesty. We all have a past; however some have more of a past than others.
U2’s Bono a number of years ago paused during the rendition of his ‘Bloody Sunday’ protest song about the Troubles, to denounce the violence and all who supported it, stating: “Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old-age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day? Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying, or crippled for life, or dead under the rubble of the revolution that the majority of the people in my country don’t want.”
We await with baited breath the fulsome reconciliation we demand, not the half-baked truths that might appease the masses.
Over to you Mr. McGuinness!
Ken Funston, Innocent Victims United