Gregory Campbell MP spoke at an event in Pilots Row recently, Bogside during the Bloody Sunday commemoration weekend. He took the occasion as an opportunity to express his party’s objection to Sinn Fein’s proposals for a Day Of Reflection.By Gregory Campbell
Throughout the 1980’s I tried to get Nationalists to hear what it was Unionists were saying and what our views were. There were no takers.
In 1995, today is in fact the tenth anniversary, I spoke in this building to a predominantly Nationalist/Republican audience. That was before the Belfast Agreement and before it was fashionable for unionists to speak in surroundings like this.
This week we found out that the Saville Inquiry has cost £154million so far. The 2 policemen who were murdered (one Protestant and one Roman Catholic) three days before Bloody Sunday less than a mile from where the march would start have never had an Inquiry into their deaths and the part played in it by the Government of the Irish Republic in financing those who murdered them.
How should people remember those who have died in past generations as well as the present? People are perfectly entitled to remember and organise remembrance events for relatives or friends who have died during the killing campaign of the past 35 years. This is the case whether they were innocent victims or guilty perpetrators.
Let me be as clear as I possibly can be however, so that there is no room for doubt, misinterpretation or ambiguity. Neither I nor the community I represent will give support to any remembrance mechanism whereby the murderers are treated the same as the murdered.
In the present era there is a tendency for many to try and eradicate the distinction between those who plan to take innocent life and those who suffer as a result of those plans being carried out.
Remembrance Day events across the UK (and more recently in the Irish Republic) are solemn, dignified and deeply moving for all those who attend. There is no attempt to equate the SS with the Allies during the Second World War for example, but neither is there any distinction among the innocent.
ALL the innocent dead should be remembered. In the more recent murder campaign of the last 35 years carried out by the IRA and other terrorist groups, each innocent victim whatever their background, religion, or political outlook, if they were innocent they can and should be remembered.
To attempt to say (as some do) that those who were engaged in murder or attempted murder and then were killed themselves, can be remembered in the same ceremony, in the same way is preposterous.
If the Mayor of New York was to organise a memorial day for the victims of September 11th and was to say that the day would include reference to, and acknowledgement of, the Al Quaieda personnel who flew the aircraft into the World Trade Centre as well as those innocents who died, he would quite rightly be regarded as a parasite and the event as grotesque and obscene.
I do not know how the Royal British Legion (for example) would respond to offers from people to help expand the type of ceremony that is held each year for innocent victims on Remembrance Day.
I know that without exception the opinion I have had expressed to me on the theme of some form of ‘Reflection’ or event that does not distinguish between perpetrator and victim is doomed to failure as was the most recent example here in Londonderry and the other centres across Northern Ireland.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty