It is typically misleading of Sinn Fein to speak of their sorrow at a murder but not condemn it

News Letter editorial of Tuesday April 20 2021:

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 8:08 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 12:54 pm
News Letter editorial

After three decades of terror and 20+ years of mostly peace, it is no surprise that people grab at signs that the worst attitudes of old are gone.

One hope that many people have is that former paramilitaries will come to see the error of their ways. That they will reflect on the bloodshed and concede that the violence was not necessary.

Such an admission would not alter the past or bring justice, but it would bring comfort to people across society. It would also help to deter younger generations from ever embarking on a similar path of death and destruction.

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Every so often, in hoping for such a realisation in those who were responsible for murder and mayhem or their apologists, there are reports that someone in Sinn Fein has apparently condemned a past IRA killing.

This was the case at the weekend when Mary Lou McDonald was asked on Times radio if she would apologise for the murder of Earl Mountbatten, aged 79, in Sligo.

“The Army and the armed forces associated with Prince Charles carried out many, many violent actions on our island,” the Sinn Fein president said. “And I can say of course I am sorry that that happened, of course that is heartbreaking.”

People who are not schooled in republican speak think this is an apology. But it isn’t.

Ms McDonald said yesterday that she had always expressed “sorrow and sadness for all death and injury”.

The same thing happened in 2017 years ago when a Queen’s University academic and Sinn Fein candidate expressed sorrow at the brutal 1983 murder of the academic Edgar Graham. Some naive people thought it a new approach.

It wasn’t. Sinn Fein express sadness at such murders but when pressed they refuse to condemn them, then act as if a display of sorrow over a death confirms their compassion over the tragic, blameless consequences of an unavoidable war.

It doesn’t. The murders of Mountbatten, Mr Graham and many others were heinous crimes carried out by calculating killers who are typically now unrepentant.

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Alistair Bushe