Slugger is designed for comment and further comment may be largely redundant but it seems inappropriate to let the Omagh anniversary pass. I wasn’t there, I haven’t been since and the closest I’ve been was to talk to the family representatives on one of their weary pilgrimages to London in search of justice. So I append the link above to part 2 of BBC NI’s Legacy programme still available on BBC i Player. From reporting, I suppose, up to 250 violent deaths at the height of the Troubles, I know full well how desensitised one can become. Today’s Omagh rituals were made possible by the end of the continuum of the Troubles. The raw edges over the wording of the inscription and the gentle boycott by some of the families is also fitting. It reminds us – usefully ands unsettlingly – that even the most eloquent of tributes to the victims of every atrocity do not speak for everyone.
Two news pieces looking ahead struck me. David McKittrick’s in the Independent among other typically acute insights asks whether the joint educational campus in the redundant army sites will come off. Elaine Byrne’s in the Irish Times is an appeal simply for the south to get to know the north better.
The 2006 Central Statistics Office figures show that 585,000 people from Northern Ireland visited the Republic. In the same period, just 277,000 people from the South visited the North. Twice as many Northerners visited the South even though the population of the North is less than half that of the South.
That, surely, is also part of the answer to whatever the question precisely is.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London