Many people in Northern Ireland are driven by loyalty. Loyalty to the flag, loyalty to the Queen, loyalty to “The Cause”, loyalty to their political party and loyalty to their leadership.
For many families though the thing that drives them on is loyalty to their loved ones. The people nearest and dearest to them who were ripped away suddenly. The people who went out one day to run a message, go to work, bring the children to school, go to visit a friend, do some shopping, (the list goes on), and never came back. The people who’s lives were taken by a bomb purposefully planted, or who were injured, never to have the chance to have children, destroying relationships and making life difficult to cope with. These families are victims. It doesn’t matter who made them a victim but they have had to suffer a terrible loss.
Recently, through absolute loyalty and love for their lost loved ones, many more families are starting to speak out. Individuals who have never spoken before publicly, anxious to hold those responsible for their loved ones murder to account. To hear politicians and those responsible – to acknowledge them – and their pain, and tell them “your loved one was a good person, we had no right to take their life. There is no justification,no “what about”. We acknowledge it was all wrong and we would never do it again.”
Some may say this is wishful thinking on relatives part, especially when victims who have spoken out get such horrendous abuse on Social Media sites such as Twitter, or if they have summoned up the bravery to share their story on the radio, because of their immense love for their dead relative. Instances such as Castlederg, or senior politicians such as Gerry Kelly being careless and aggressive with language saying “If I had to I would do it all again”. Does he really have no concept or compassion at how re traumatising and devastating his words are for some families? Neither does it help when UVF men are remembered during Orange Parades, the loud bang of the drums, the shrillness of the flutes all intimidating for those who lost loved ones because of their religion or “mistaken identity”.
However none of this will stop or should stop families holding politicians to account, and demanding accountability from those organisations who made them victims in the first place. It is necessary for those grieving families who suffered immediate impact to have healing, so their grief and hurt isn’t passed down through generations. It is necessary that we show the world not only are we able to live together but we embrace a morality that says murder is wrong, unjustifiable and doesn’t solve anything.
Victims must stand together, not abuse each other, respect each others loyalty to their loved one. It goes without saying for the vast majority of families that murder was wrong.
Lets leave the whataboutery behind.
Support each other no matter what differing political views. That is democracy, it’s much better to embrace that than the armalite.