The new Sinn Fein mayor Brenda Chivers will supposedly attend a memorial service for those murdered and injured in the IRA bomb in Coleraine.
It’s difficult to know how to respond, but I suggest that her bona fides should be subjected to something I call the “Amon Goeth test”, after the commandant of the notorious Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp.
In simple terms, this test means that we should examine a person’s actions to determine whether they’re acting for the right reasons, or if they have ulterior, selfish motives.
Is Brenda Chivers acting in order to enhance her image in the eyes of others, or has her organisation accepted that it’s previous behaviour was wrong, unnecessary and unjustified?
We have to be mature about how we deal with the past. That means asking tough questions. However, we should always do so in a civil manner with a clear focus on ensuring a peaceful future for ourselves and our children.
Many of us have adopted a pragmatic attitude to forgiveness, in order to help our society move away from the violence of the past. Manners are important when dealing with others who may have perspectives different from our own.
However, that should not be confused with spurious interpretations of ‘respect’ and ‘equality’. We should never respect those who used violence outside the law or promoted hatreds that sustained our conflict. Nor should we treat equally those who believe it is acceptable to promote their constitutional preferences in any way other than making this place work for all its people.
The mayor should clarify her position on the IRA campaign. Does she feel it was wrong, unnecessary and unjustified? The word “regret” is not an answer to that question.
If she does attend, however, she should be treated with civility at all times, difficult as that might be for some.
Trevor Ringland, Holywood