The Sinn Fein candidate for Lagan Valley, Peter Doran, said he feels “profound sorrow” about the murder of his former colleague at Queen’s University law school, Edgar Graham, by the IRA.
That statement seems significant, but it needs to be clarified, if we’re to assess whether it marks something new for the party.
Is Sinn Fein changing, or does the cause still come before people, with control retained by the IRA?
Dr Doran and Michelle O’Neill should make it clear not only that the murder was regrettable, but, more importantly, whether they consider it unjustified.
If they’re prepared not to insist that IRA violence was necessary, then a break with the past is possible, and opportunities for more constructive politics are opened up.
That politics would be marked by parties from either side of the constitutional question pursuing their aspirations by showing first that they can make Northern Ireland work.
Edgar Graham was a young man with tremendous potential, who was a rising star in the Ulster Unionist Party.
He was killed because the republican movement saw that he would be a future leader of constructive unionism.
He was murdered because of his abilities and the threat they posed to republicanism. His loss was a tragedy, first and foremost for his family and friends, but also to unionism and to our wider society.
As we look to build a constructive future, with better relationships, it is important to acknowledge the wrongs that were committed in the past.
The use of violence brought only misery to people on this island, and across these islands. Violence achieved nothing that would not have been achieved through peaceful means.
It’s important for our children that we make perfectly clear the fact that Bloody Sunday was wrong, the atrocities committed by the Shankill Butchers were wrong, so was the murder of Edgar Graham and the other barbaric acts of the republican movement.
It is inadequate for a member of the republican movement to express remorse over Edgar Graham’s murder.
A true democrat should be unequivocal in stating that it was unjustified. I await clarification from Dr Doran and his new leader.
Is Sinn Fein genuinely becoming a political party or is it a front for the IRA masquerading as democrats?
Trevor Ringland, Holywood, Co Down