Remembering Thomas Begley

Once again the subject of the Shankill bombing comes centre stage. Plans have been announced for a commemoration of Thomas Begley, one of the two young men who carried the bomb into the Shankill fish-shop and who was himself killed in the explosion. Now a commemoration is planned for him later this month, a few days before the anniversary of the bombing.
As I’ve said elsewhere, there are trigger words here which drive people into paroxysms of outrage, and ‘the Shankill bomb’ is one of them. To the people of the Shankill Begley was a murderer, the essence of evil, a man who helped bring about the deaths of nine people. To republicans, he was an IRA volunteer who was involved in a military operation in which he lost his life. Everything else – the assertion that a postponed meeting of the UDA was the intended target, the premature explosion which took the life of one of the bombers – is shaped by these two contrasting views. 
Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the explosion, was on TV recently and I thought he spoke honestly and with understanding. He said that when he heard a band playing in the Ardoyne on the first anniversary of the explosion, he felt deeply hurt. He acknowledges that Thomas Begley was some mother’s son, but that his commemoration should not be thrust in the faces of those who suffered through his actions. 
That seems a fair and in the circumstances noble reading of what happened then and what should happen now. An acceptance that, for whatever reason, the relatives of those killed in our conflict have been hurt to a depth most of us can only wonder at; and an acceptance that those actively involved in the conflict, while reviled by one side, are seen as courageous and worthy of commemoration by the other. 

We can only hope that the note struck by Alan McBride will be echoed by others commenting on the event. Commemorations don’t have to be marched up to the door of those who’ve suffered  to the sound of yelled slogans.

16 Responses to Remembering Thomas Begley

  1. Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Despite your reservations about the Irish News, you might care to read Newton Emerson’s opinion piece on Page 18 today.It deals not only with the Thomas Begley commemoration but also with the Sinn Fein attitude to victimhood.You even get a passing reference albeit indirectly .

    • Jude Collins October 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      Sorry – life’s too short to spend time reading it or him…

    • Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

      Yes,so much to do,so little time.You wouldn’t want to risk reading something with which you might disagree!!

    • Jude Collins October 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Mmm. A moment’s thought might show you the absurdity of your second sentence.

  2. Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    I’m not sure how a commemoration held within a 100% nationalist area can be described as being “thrust in the face” of Shankill victims.

    Is there a parade planned for the top of the Shankill ?

    • Jude Collins October 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      I don’t think i/I didn’t intend to imply that the commemoration would be thrust in the face of Shankill victims. I was trying to say that no one should thrust their values/beliefs in the face of those who mightn’t share them.

  3. Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Just like the freeman memorial flute band!who was also killed by his own bomb&hasnt stopped the band from marching wherever they like!

  4. Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    You speak today of trigger words and their ability to drive people into “paroxisms of outrage” The Shankill bombing is seen by most people as an outrage but there is nothing paroxysmic about the outrage. It is not an uncontollable outburst nor a sudden attack or recurrence of a disease or for that matter a fit or convulsion. It is seen as an attack on the community,It is not seen as a failed attack on either UDA headquarters or a senior UDA meeting which was cancelled and so let’s be very clear about that. Perhaps it may have been more prudent to wait until after the commemoration instead of rushing in with trigger words such as “paroxysm”, “postponed meeting” and “premature”.Paroxysm seems to me to be a word better used in a description of your piece.

    • Jude Collins October 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      I haven’t come across the word ‘paroxysmic’ but I’m happy to use a synonym. It seems to me that there are words which some people cannot hear without becoming highly emotional. I think your comment supports that point.

    • Anonymous October 11, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      Well unlike you I have come across the word. Your dictionary may not contain it though. I do seem to remember that in a previous blog of yours you backed up your opinion that nobody was murdered in the Shankill bombing with the use of a dictionary. You wish to trivialize and dismiss the point i was making by suggesting that i have invented the adjective “paroxysmic”. And again lets be clear about what you said. You stated that there were trigger words which drove people into “paroxysms of outrage” You now replace it with “highly emotional”, and if you had done so in the first place it may as I’ve said earlier been more prudent. In a nutshell, perhaps it would have been better to have consulted a dictionary in the first place. If you’re presenting “highly emotional” as a synonym then i suggest you’re being misleading again.

    • Jude Collins October 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      See my final sentence above.

  5. Anonymous October 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    I think few people might have known about this had the media and PUL politicians not “thrust it in our faces” and secondly I think the fact that the commemoration is being held a few days before the actual anniversary of the bombing, and therefore not coinciding with any planned commemorations elsewhere, shows some consideration for the feelings of others killed in the explosion

    • Jude Collins October 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      See above – I didn’t intend to say the commemoration planned to be in people’s faces – I meant to indicate that doing so – by anyone- would not be a good idea. There are people who think pushing their values/loyalties in the face of those who don’t share them IS a good idea. I beg to differ.

  6. giordanobruno October 11, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    What is the nature of the commemoration? Family and friends remembering a loved one is one thing.
    Honouring him for his deeds would seem to be insensitive,though they are perfectly entitled to do so.

  7. Anonymous October 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    in the present political climate it seems this is being used by someone somebody who wont come forward the Begley family say they didn’t ask for it so step forward Gerry martin og dee fennel who knows but come sunday we will see who attends and then we can see if a shared future is pie in the sky

  8. Catholicus October 17, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    A quiet anniversary Mass for Thomas Begley would be one thing. Anything else is really just disgraceful provocation. Don’t care where it’s held, how it’s done.