Closure be damned

My life has been blessed. The nearest I’ve come to the death of a loved one in the Troubles was in the Omagh bomb, where a distant cousin died. So I can’t begin to understand how much pain families feel when a family member is killed through the wanton violence of others. Nor can I understand what consolation there is when those responsible, years later, apologise for what happened. David Cameron’s statement in the British House of Commons regarding Bloody Sunday was seen by some as a triumph at the end of a long struggle. As an outsider, I could see neither justice nor triumph.

The death of 12-year-old schoolgirl, Majella O’Hare, is the latest to receive a belated apology. She was shot twice in the back by a British soldier in Whitecross, South Armagh, in 1976, as she was on her way to Confession. The soldier involved lied that an IRA gunman had been involved and got off; now it’s accepted that he lied and Owen Paterson, the British Secretary of State, has apologized.

The reaction of Majella’s brother Michael is interesting: “It has been a long time coming. It still does not avoid the fact that Majella is dead as a result of their actions”. I call that an understatement. Think about it. A defenceless child is shot dead. The murderer lies about what happened. Thirty years elapse, an apology is at last issued but there is no question of the killer, whose job was to protect not slaughter, being punished. How can anyone speak of justice, closure or the like?

Some people might see Michael O’Hare’s response as not sufficiently grateful. In the circumstances, I find it massively forgiving.

One Response to Closure be damned

  1. Fitzjames Horse March 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I have also been blessed. But I often wonder what kind of family of victim I would be. I hope I would be like Joyce McCartan and Alan McBride but I fear that I would be a bitter and twisted and noisy victim for whom there could never be enough sympathy. I will now call themm dissident victims because they are as much as an impediment to the Peace Process/Agreement than republican, loyalist or liberal dissidents.

    I am not of course talking about the O’Hare family but rather the victims groups who receive slightly too much empathy from the Conflict Resolution “industry”.
    We can only say “sorry for your loss” so many times. Victims have been asked to pay a high price (perhaps too high) for the Peace we enjoy.
    But thirty five year ago, Private Michael Williams got away with it. As did the Bloody Sunday soldiers and other murderers in and out of unifrm.
    It was for a “common good” but they sewed the seeds that there is now a new “common good”. Nobody will be convicted of anything pre-1998.