McElduff’s resignation can be a watershed for us all
Does the resignation of Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff mark a new beginning when it comes to remembering the Troubles? I think so. While Barry McElduff maintains he did not deliberately set out to show disrespect to the victims of the Kingsmill massacre which occurred on the day of his tweet 42 years previously, it tells us a lot that therefore he was not aware of the significance of the date.
Does it not tell us that, even in peace, different groups selectively remember the nearly 4,000 people who died in the Troubles between 1968-1998. Barry McElduff’s resignation statement was a model of compromise and reconciliation – is it a watershed?
Will the campaign for a peace and reconciliation commission gather momentum because of the events of the last few weeks?
Every day, on average ten families across these islands mark an anniversary. Yesterday is no exception.
Thomas Douglas a 21-year-old Dublin Bus driver originally from Scotland was killed in the centre of Dublin by a bomb planted by the UVF. He had only recently become engaged. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of his death. Another 21-year-old killed this weekend was Christopher Shenton from Stoke-on-Trent. He was a British soldier killed by the IRA. Yesterday was the 38th anniversary of his death.
Kevin Coen from Sligo was a member of the IRA killed in Co. Fermanagh by the British Army as he tried to hijack a bus. He was 28. Yesterday was the 43rd anniversary of his death.
Desmond Mullan a 33-year-old Catholic was killed in 1974 in Carrickfergus in a sectarian murder committed by an unknown loyalist group. On the same day just across the border in Monaghan, Cormac McCabe a school principal and member of the UDR, was abducted and killed by the IRA. Yesterday was the 44th anniversary of their deaths.
Another member of the Ulster Defence Regiment – a part-time state security force – was 30-yearold Colin Houston who died in his wife’s arms when he was shot in his kitchen by the INLA in 1984. They had been married seven months. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of his death. .
Two members of the Irish National Liberation Army – a breakaway from the IRA – were killed by former comrades as they sat in a hotel near Drogheda on January 20, 1987. They were Thomas Power and John O’Reilly. Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of their deaths.
Frank McColgan was a petty thief who was shot dead by the RUC carrying an imitation firearm after committing a robbery in Belfast – he had no paramilitary involvement. The 31-year-old left a partner and young son. Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of his death.
I came across these names while researching the 150 children aged 16 and under killed in the Troubles. Friday was the 43rd anniversary of the death of Patrick Toner killed by a IRA booby trap bomb intended for the British Army. This year Patrick would have been 50.
Today January 21, another 11 families will quietly remember the anniversaries of their relatives killed in the Troubles. All these people deserve to be remembered by more than their family and friends on their anniversary today. We need to do this as a society moving forward together .