Repaying the moral debt owed to Jean McConville…

There’s a very powerful piece by Amanda Foreman on the importance of remembering in detail and without the darkest recesses of our past. It concerns the abduction, torture and killing of housewife and widow, Jean McConville. But it focuses less on the act itself than the institutional lying that has attended it to this very day:

…though it was a group of individuals who killed Jean McConville, it is society that condoned her persecution in life and afterwards. Prejudice made her fall foul of the IRA because she had Protestant blood and because she had shown mercy to the enemy. Prejudice, because she was a Catholic from the wrong part of town, made her invisible to the officers of law and order. Prejudice, because she was a social outcast, enabled people to trash her reputation. Prejudice, because she was an uneducated woman without means or connections to men in power – or with guns, has allowed her murder to go unpunished.

It is our lack of will that lies behind the continued denial of justice to Jean McConville. Yet there is something that we can do now for her and for ourselves before our silence turns us from spectators into passive accomplices. We can remember her. We can memorialise her and all that she represents. Teach her story to future generations and at least the moral debt owed to Jean McConville can be repaid. Jean McConville. Jean McConville. Jean McConville.

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