A letter from Ireland a Chara, The past has been weighing heavy over the past week. Sinn Féin MP John Finucane spoke at an event on Sunday to remember Irish Republicans killed during the conflict in South Armagh. This is an annual event that has been running for 13 years. The response was as insulting as it was predictable. Political opponents lined up to attack John for standing with bereaved families. The Irish Government Foreign Affairs Minister and Tániste Micheal Martin, fresh from visiting the Orange Order that day, claimed that the event would glorify “the horrible deeds of the past.” John Finucane was 8 years old when his father Pat was shot to death 14 times and his mother once in front of him and his family. The Tánaiste know his story. This was not ignorance but a special kind of arrogance to lecture a bereaved son on who should and who should not be entitled to be remembered. Over the same weekend, the British Government again made clear that it would push through legislation that will end the rights of bereaved families to inquests, judicial investigations, and access to the courts. All because the legal actions of victims of state killings had uncovered the role of the British military in arming, directing, and covering up the murders of Irish Citizens North and South. This unilateral action by the British is opposed by victims, all political parties, the Irish government, International Human Rights bodies, and the US Congress. This legislation rips up key aspects of the human rights commitments of the Good Friday Agreement. The same British Government that has blocked the agreed full public inquiry into the killing of John’s father. The Finucane Families campaign, like others, will continue. It is hoped that the Irish Government will support those families to take a State Case to Europe to overturn this British Governments legislation. The Irish Government seems to believe that Republicans have no right to remember their dead. The British Government want us all to forget their actions during the conflict. Neither can nor will succeed.
Reconciliation can be found in acknowledgment. In remembering, committing to peace, democracy, and the rights of all. Have a great weekend, and I will leave with the words of one of your own great poets Lucille Clifton:
why some people be mad at me sometimes they ask me to remember but they want me to remember their memories and i keep on remembering mine.
Is mise, Ciarán
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.