Apologies and the historical narrative

Danny Morrison argues that apologies are sometimes welcome and can have their place in averting to instances of past injustice. But he believes there are certain political facts that cannot be wished away or apologised for.

He takes as an example:

…there will never be a ‘proper apology’ for the British conquest of Ireland – which has bequeathed us our current difficulties. Nor will unionist leaders properly apologise for unionism’s systemic mistreatment of nationalists under Stormont, or for their many apologias for state violence which in turn helped fuel the IRA campaign.

But he also suggests there are some things that politicians are unlikely ever to be caught apologising for:

To repent, to repudiate the legitimacy of one’s past is to risk invalidating the legitimacy of one’s current position. To surrender the historical narrative to the enemy is to weaken one’s position and surrender political opportunity to the enemy.

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