An open letter to the mayor of San Francisco (sent before Ms Breed apologised for the hurt caused by the wording in the honour to Martin McGuinness):
Dear London Nicole Breed,
I recently read about your childhood and your grandmother effectively bringing you and your brothers up in a violent public housing area of San Francisco.
So I have the greatest admiration for you in bettering yourself and ending up as mayor of San Francisco.
I also read about your recent efforts as mayor to have your older brother Napoleon’s 44 year prison sentence for manslaughter reduced and your wish for him to be given a second chance by society for the mistakes he made when he was younger.
As impressionable young people we all make mistakes and it is only in later life with experience and maturity we often regret and acknowledge our youthful mistakes.
Therefore I can fully understand your love for your older brother and I can even accept that he, like many others who took the wrong path, maybe deserve a second chance.
However, when I read that you have issued a posthumous ‘Certificate of Honour’ to Martin McGuinness and included in the citation your honour to him for his ‘courageous service in the military’ I was astounded by your breathtaking naivety.
I immediately thought of my own older brother John who was killed in my family ice cream parlour, Barnam’s World of Ice Cream on 11th October 1988 by the IRA while he was off duty from his job as a serving member of the police.
John was simply doing me the favour of locking up the ice cream parlour that night while I and my wife and young daughters were on holiday.
My brother was callously and brutally murdered that night, by members of the IRA, a terrorist organisation which Martin McGuinness himself admitted to being a member of.
So unfortunately my older brother John doesn’t have the opportunity of a second chance at life like your brother Napoleon.
Nor do my mum and dad who died prematurely from broken hearts soon after the murder of their son.
There are many children here and across the island of Ireland and further afield who had to be brought up by grandparents, not because of poor circumstances, but because terrorists cruelly killed their parents.
I would like to think that Martin McGuinness in later life regretted the path he chose in his youth. We will never fully know as he died without uttering any meaningful apology or revealing the truths he knew to the many victims of IRA atrocities.
All murders are wrong no matter what organisation carried them out – be they Loyalist organisations in Northern Ireland such as the UVF or UDA or Republicans such as the IRA, or ISIS or Al Qaeda or other terror organisation across the globe.
And those who provide support and any form of justification or glorification for such organisations and their actions are, in my humble opinion, equally culpable for their actions.
Terrorism and murder in pursuit of any cause or injustice can never be justified. It is wrong and should be condemned.
Murderers or their supporters and apologists should not be honoured.
It would appear that you Mayor Breed are willing to participate in this sanitising of the past with your honouring of Martin McGuinness, who like your brother Napoleon, chose a path that included the killing of others.
Perhaps you have been misinformed by your staff and were misguided in using those words in the citation. Or perhaps you actually believe in those words and consider Martin McGuinness courageous for being part of an organisation who were responsible for such violence.
Either way, in my humble opinion and as the brother of someone murdered by the IRA, your misguided gesture of honouring an apologist for terror caused offence and gratuitous hurt to me and thousands of grieving victims and their families.
I appeal to you Mayor Breed to consider that path of ‘second chance’ that you desire for your brother Napoleon, to do what is right and correct the hurtful mistake you have made with your Certificate – not of ‘Honour’ - but of Shame.
You have a second chance to have the decency to publicly apologise for the unnecessary pain and hurt you have caused so many victims and their families. I hope you have the courage to do so.
George Larmour, Author of ‘They Killed the Ice Cream Man’