As Patrick Kielty says of his father’s murder: ‘It isn’t OK’

Morning View
Morning View

The comedian Patrick Kielty has for more than two decades been a presence on television across Britain and Ireland.

His line of work is such that his public persona is a cheerful one, and yet in Northern Ireland a tragic aspect of his life has been known since he first became famous: Kielty’s father Jack was shot dead by loyalists in 1988.

A BBC documentary broadcast last night was entitled ‘My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me,’ in which he says he is not prepared to forgive the terrorists behind the murder — William Bell, David Curlett and Delbert Watson — who were released early from life terms after the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

The programme included a striking exchange between Kielty and the DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose police officer father survived an IRA attack on him.

Mrs Foster said: “How can you allow people who have committed some of the most hideous crimes just walk free as if they had done nothing?”

Kielty said: “I felt [the 1998 deal] had to be done. I was prepared to suck it up.”

Mrs Foster said: “That’s true for you, but for others they want justice and sadly there are some that still want retribution.”

The exchange illustrates the obvious truth that every victim will respond to their trauma in their own way.

The late Gordon Wilson is remembered 30 years after the Enniskillen bomb for his dignity recalling the murder of his daughter Marie and his remark that he bore “no ill will” for it.

Such words are both humbling and inspiring.

Yet it is also humbling and inspiring to hear Kielty say he cannot forgive his father’s killers and will not “give them a hug and tell them it is OK”.

There is, at times, a little too much of an expectation that victims give hugs and say it is OK.

It isn’t OK, when you have been the victim of sectarian murderers, as were so many people in Northern Ireland.

And it is all the less OK when the culprits feel no remorse.