The sister of Edgar Graham – the lawyer and politician murdered by the IRA at the edge of Queen’s University – today speaks for the first time about the 1983 killing.
Anne Graham, writing in the News Letter, explains her reaction to the fact that Peter Doran has not condemned the murder of her brother Edgar, a predecessor of Dr Doran in QUB’s legal faculty.
• See full set of links below to Anne Graham’s article and other stories on this controversy
Last weekend Dr Doran, the Sinn Fein candidate for Lagan Valley, expressed “profound sorrow” at the death of Mr Graham, who was a rising star within unionist politics when he was shot dead from behind on the verge of the university campus.
This sparked a controversy as a succession of people, led by the reconciliation activist Trevor Ringland, asked why he had not in fact condemned the brutal killing.
Dr Doran issued an even longer statement yesterday detailing his regret, but still not condemning the murder.
Miss Graham writes: “Anyone casually reading [Dr Doran’s original comments] might think how progressive this is ...”
But she goes on to point out that he has not condemned the murder. “Perhaps [his comment] has been edited unfairly but if so it will be easy for Mr Doran to correct this. Was it wrong for two gunmen to shoot my brother five or six times in the back of the head?
“What ‘conflict’ was he involved in? He was a politician and a law lecturer.”
Miss Graham says: “...Mr Doran refers to his life as being a tragic choice as if participating in democratic politics is to expose oneself to being shot down callously.
“My brother was excoriated by unionist party colleagues and unionist politicians for speaking against the death penalty for terrorists here, yet Mr Doran has said nothing to indicate that he abjures the arbitrary exercise of the death penalty meted out by his fellow travellers in such a barbaric fashion.”
Dr Doran said yesterday: “I made it clear when asked that I regard the killing of Edgar Graham as a matter of profound sorrow.
“In fact that was the headline of the initial media report, which dealt at some length with my own personal commitment to reconciliation.” He added: “Sinn Féin has acknowledged the loss and pain suffered by everyone in our community, in our society as a result of the conflict.
“We have expressed regret that the hurt of the past cannot be undone.
“Sinn Féin is absolutely committed to a process of genuine reconciliation and healing.
“We want to see all sections of society, including political unionism, engaging fully in that process.”
Miss Graham said last night that this statement changed nothing about her response to his original comments, as detailed in her article which is linked to below, which was written before Dr Doran’s more extensive statement.
Trevor Ringland, who first challenged Dr Doran after the academic’s initial comments were published in the Belfast Telegraph, said of Dr Doran’s most recent comments: “This statement clearly confirms the view of many of us who have listened to Sinn Fein over the years and their talk about reconciliation.
“It does not condemn the murder. In essence it confirms that they see that their campaign of violence was justified, even when it included shooting dead a young democrat, who was murdered simply because he was good.”
Mr Ringland added: “The IRA campaign of violence was not OK, nor was it justified in any way.
“It is so important for our future that we teach our young people that the IRA campaign was wrong, that the response of loyalists was wrong and that those police and army who acted outside the law were wrong.”
Edgar Graham was aged 29 when he murdered.
He was widely recognised as one of the most talented young members of the Ulster Unionist Party and was thought of as a future leader.