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Saying you’re sorry horrible things happened while insisting there was no alternative is just crass, Michelle

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Michelle O’Neill presents herself as a symbol of a changing, more tolerant and empathetic society. The 16-year-old who sat her GCSEs days after giving birth and now wants to be “first minister for everyone” in Northern Ireland. It’s a personal story of triumph over adversity perfect for 2022.

What a pity this same woman’s views on terrorism seem hopelessly locked in the brutal sectarianism of the 1970s. How depressing that despite years at the heart of power-sharing and peace processing and political spin-doctoring, she cannot even attempt a more nuanced take than “at the time there was no alternative” to IRA violence.

That in an evolving society, in an era where the past is viewed through a critical lens, there remains a myth forever exempt from revisionism, fresh perspective, lived experience.

Realistically when Sinn Fein vice-president O’Neill continues to commemorate the IRA, there’s little she can say to bring solace to its victims. But like all politicians she has a responsibility not to add to the pain of all those still suffering due to the Troubles. Her podcast with Mark Carruthers caused huge hurt. Saying you wished “so many people didn’t have the horrible experience they had” while also maintaining there was no other way is incredibly crass. It’s just a long way of saying ‘tough’.

If we gave each victim of loyalist and republican violence the attention they deserve, we’d be talking for years. Cruel, cowardly and utterly pointless killings were carried out by all sides.

But since we’re talking about the IRA, let’s consider a few of those who apparently had to be killed to get us to this point: nurse Marie Wilson,........

© Belfast Telegraph

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