Tipperary peace prize organisers have made themselves look foolish

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The Tipperary Peace Convention has not even decided who will win its annual peace prize, and yet this year’s award is deep in controversy.

The selection of Martin McGuinness as a nominee for the honour has caused uproar, particularly (but not only) in Northern Ireland.

The organisers of the award can of course give that prize to whoever they choose. But they did look naive when they seemed to be taken aback by the reaction to such a choice.

The reports from a range of IRA victims, such as Aileen Quinton and Stephen Gault, that their protests on the Tipperary prize website have been blocked or removed then make the prize organisers look mean-spirited.

After all, both Aileen and Stephen lost a parent in the IRA atrocity at Enniskillen. And think just for a moment where that bomb exploded in 1987 – at a cenotaph, as people gathered to pay their respects to the dead. No-one was ever convicted for that crime, that was the very antithesis of peace and decency.

Mr McGuinness is almost universally believed to have been an IRA leader when that blast happened.

How then does it look when organisers of a peace prize not only seem to overlook the fact that their nominee has been far from forthcoming about his role in a terror organisation, but they also get shirty with the paramilitary group’s victims?

If they had bothered to make even cursory online inquiries, they would have known that Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United was not threatening them when he badgered them with questions about their thinking in considering such an honour to Mr McGuinness.

When he said that his group would “be revisiting our approach in these matters” to protect the interests of IRA victims they said they would hand his letter “to the appropriate authorities”.

One thing is clear from this sorry shambles. The Tipperary organisers cannot see what sorts of people do engage in threats, and what sorts of people do not.