Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Memories Repeated?

One of my clearest memories from childhood is the evening of 8th November 1987. I was 6 years old at the time, and the TV news was on. Those from Northern Ireland will recognise the date, as the day the IRA bombed the Poppy Day Parade in Enniskillen. I wasn't very old, yet I remember thinking that this was terrible, and that there were evil men and women destroying things and murdering people.

The following year, the Troubles visited Dromore for the first time in my memory*, when Terence Delaney was murdered by the UFF while waiting for a lift to work on 6th July 1988. These things had always happened in other places, but now, my home town was the setting for violence and murder too.

Bad memories for children to grow up with. One can only wonder what those who lived at such close quarters must deal with - those children who grew up without a father because of a murder, or those whose houses were attacked because their family served to protect the entire community of Northern Ireland in the Police or UDR.

Talking to some young people at church on Sunday after the double murder of soldiers at Massereene barracks in Antrim occured on Saturday night, it appears that they have no recollection of the Troubles of violence. For many, this is their first taste of the shock of terrorist activity. Such memories will have been compounded following the murder last night of Constable Stephen Paul Carroll in Craigavon, the first member of the PSNI to be murdered by terrorists.

We cannot allow the current generation of young people to grow up in the fear and uncertainty that my generation knows only too well. That is why all decent people must stop the Real IRA and Continuity IRA (who are probably the same people) from dragging us back to the past and resuming the darkest days of the Troubles. And may the so-called Loyalists not take up their arms again to counter this threat - such an action would escalate things further and be destructive of everything.

No more children need to have tarnished memories sullied by the evil acts of terrorists. Please God, restrain the hand of evil men, and grant us peace in this land. Amen.

* Three members of the Herron family had died in an IRA incendiary bomb attack on their family shop and residence in Market Square, Dromore in April 1976, but this was before I was born.

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