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Only the hardest heart would look at images of Bloody Friday and sing ‘Ooh, ah, up the ’Ra’

6 175 19

The 40th anniversary of the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings in London and the 50th anniversary of Belfast’s Bloody Friday rolled round this week, and all these decades later we still don’t know how to bring a scintilla of healing to our collective wounds.

Such is the partisan nature of this place now that even the dead and injured are scrapped over. Sympathy is selective. Quasi-justifications are fired into cyberspace by anonymous gloaters desperate for another go. Young ‘ceasefire soldiers’ who missed it first time round.

Four soldiers of the Blues and Royals and seven bandsmen were murdered by the IRA in London on July 20, 1982. At least 51 people were injured. Seven horses were also killed. Nine people were murdered in Belfast on July 21, 1972, when the IRA detonated 22 bombs across the city. Another 130 were seriously hurt.

Our Troubles’ dead are like a comet coming towards us. At the front, visible, those atrocities that claimed multiple victims. At the tail, out there in space, all those lonely souls, Catholic, Protestant and neither, who were startled in empty streets, knew fleeting horror at their front doors, pleaded in their taxis or were mercifully oblivious before they were blown to eternity and are now remembered only by their families. Reporters don’t knock their doors when anniversaries come round.

There are a handful of exceptions, such as the headline-making cases where the killers were State forces. Of course those families deserve truth and justice, but every single family deserves that. There’s a perception of a hierarchy of victims.


© Belfast Telegraph

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