If the Assembly cannot agree on a Troubles memorial, why not proceed without them?

One of the glaring consequences of the mutual denying ordinance of the Sinn Fein/DUP pact was the treatment of victims of the Trouble. Virtually no provision has been made for those affected. As Newton noted yesterday, the absence of a memorial is almost of painful:

By contrast, the Titanic Memorial Garden beside Belfast City Hall is simple and moving. It lists all 1,512 victims on five brass plaques in alphabetical order, set on a marble block.

Visitors can always be found lingering at it – even with no personal or ancestral connection to the disaster, it draws you in.

It also makes the lack of a similar Troubles memorial in Belfast so glaringly obvious that you have to wonder if that was somebody’s intention.

However, as he also points out, that’s not necessarily something the government [what’s that? – Ed] could or should have a veto on…

It would take relatively little money and a small plot of land, preferably in central Belfast. Memorials of this nature need not be expensive – a low-six figure sum is realistic, including a landscaped setting.

The churches would be well placed and suited to the task, if they could arrange it in a sufficiently ecumenical manner. The precinct of St Anne’s Cathedral, for example, is currently used – in fact, underused – as a staff car park.

It could be an ideal location.

What are we waiting on?

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Maybe put it in Hollywood?

    Seriously not a chance this’ll fly; my brother’s name should be on it ‘coz he was a hero and his brother’s shouldn’t because he was a murdering thug.

  • mickfealty

    Put everyone who is mentioned in Lost Lives on it. Simples.

  • sparrow

    Seriously good idea. And so simple, as you say.

  • Newton Emerson

    I’d like to point out I wrote this on Monday morning before the ‘statues’ row arrived on our shores, so I didn’t have that issue in mind. I’ve also since received a response from St Anne’s – insisting their car park is “fully booked”.
    So much for the churches.

  • Jeremy Cooke

    That’s a solution but I doubt if we have the ability to implement it. I wish you luck and I’d throw in a few quid if it was on those terms.

  • mickfealty

    Newton’s twist is that the Churches can do it, without let or hinderance from our politicians. And St Anne’s would be the perfect venue.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    Putting names on it will never work for obvious reasons. Just put a general ‘to all those killed during the troubles’

  • Mike the First

    But then what consideration for those who don’t want their loved one’s name appearing on a monument along with that of their killer?

  • Karl

    Lets thrown another thing into the mix to fight over. There isnt enough we dont agree on already.

  • notimetoshine

    No, no, double no. The political establishment in NI (and our society) is not mature enough to deal with something like this. Any memorial or even discussion of a memorial would descend into a bitter, ultimately quixotic farce, as opposing parties try to assert their narrative of the troubles.

    We have in NI two diametrically opposed narratives concerning the troubles. They are mutually exclusive and are not likely to come together any time soon (nor given the losses people have experienced could they be reasonably expected to do so). This poses an insurmountable challenge when dealing with legacy issues and frankly for the good of NI, we would be best leaving well alone. It isn’t nice, nor is it fair, but practically speaking what alternative is there?

  • notimetoshine

    Agree completely. There is no chance of reconciling the opposing narratives of the troubles any time soon, so how can we have a memorial when the two sides wouldn’t be able to decide what the memorial was for?

  • mickfealty

    It was a brilliant idea Newt.

  • mickfealty

    What’s there to disagree with? Seriously.

  • Karl

    Will a Troubles memorial remember all those who died?
    We’ve already had discussions over the heirarchy of victims. Will IRA members and UVF members killed by whatever means be remembered as equally as those killed by their actions?
    There are degrees of involvement in prepetration. Should we equivocate or delineate?
    Whatever the view, there is a debate to be had and that gives rise to disagreement and the usual power plays.

  • mickfealty

    Why?

  • mickfealty

    What’s the challenge record re Lost Lives?

  • mickfealty

    It would. But only the dead. What’s the problem?

  • Karl

    Because people would object to the names of Lenny Murphy, Tim Parry, Sean Savage and Stephen Restorick appearing on the same memorial and they wouldnt all have the same reason.
    Im not sure why you cant see that.

  • mickfealty

    They haven’t re Lost Lives. So maybe there’s a problem with the way it’s presented?

  • Karl

    Maybe presentation would go some way but any discussion is likely to open wounds and increase the divisions in keeping with the post GFA narrative. Fewer lives lost but more lives moving further apart.

  • dodrade99

    Lost Lives is a book of historic record, not a public memorial.

  • William Kinmont

    Could it be one of those reclaimed council tips/dumps. No statues no nameplates just a nice parkland area where we can all reflect on the waste and try to make something good out of it. Some of my posts are a bit tongue in cheek this one is not meant to be.

  • mickfealty

    Quite. So what’s the substantive objection, to publicly memorialising that historic record? I’m not hearing any.

  • mickfealty

    That’s not the effect memorials have generally. I’ve not been to the Titanic one, but I’ve seen others like the Vietnam wall in DC, and the effect appears to be cathartic, rather than re-traumatising.

  • mickfealty

    Are you raising that objection, personally?

  • mickfealty

    It doesn’t work with omissions. It has to claim everyone, or we won’t see the enormity of the tragedy. I wonder if this demonstration of the scale is closer to the real objection? Truth is the civilians will far outnumber protagonists and the pro-state the anti-state victims.

  • dodrade99

    A memorial will be seen as conferring legitimacy and equivalence on all those who died which people on all sides will object to. Damnatio Memoriae isn’t confined to Ancient Rome or Confederate Statues.

  • mickfealty

    That’s a great phrase Dod.

  • Karl

    Up until now i wouldnt have because i never saw the need for an all encompassing memorial but i could see the objections if a shankhill butchers name and a child killed in ballymurphy were side by side in the same way as the incongruity of displaying the ira bomber of the shankill fish shop appeared beside the victims of that attack.

  • Karl

    Total killings during the troubles were around 3500. Total civilian deaths were 1800 approximately.
    I dont think there has been an armed conflict in the 20th century where the ratio of civilian casualties has been so low. Who you ‘credit’ that for depends on your politics i suppose.
    NI has got to get over being feted by world leaders and feeling its special.
    It was a grubby drawn out sectarian affair caused by the intransigence of an imperial mindset yet to disappear arising from a british tradition of ill thought out short termism that led to partition.
    Many many more people were killed and maimed in the same period by road traffic accidents.
    Tell the Vietnamese, polish, Cambodians, russians, native peoples all over the world about the suffering in NI snd theyre likely to wonder if youre telling a bad joke.

  • Karl

    3 million vietnamese are listed on the wall in DC??

  • Karl

    The fewer things the churches have to do with public life, the better.
    Looking at Ireland in the 1980s and to paraphrase Homer Simpson – the church, the cause of and the solution to all our problems.

  • mickfealty

    So you wouldn’t raise it yourself? But you might do so for “a friend”?

  • mickfealty

    You’re working very hard to miss the point, again. 🙂

  • Sub

    Whilst it is a good idea Mick. Such is the depth of division here it would never become a reality. May I suggest two seperate gardens opposite each other with a memorial inscribed with the names of each tribe on them. Then at the entrance to each garden we could have a directional sign pointing to the other garden inscribed with the words It was all themmuns fault. That would sum up the prevalent mindset in our politics perfectly

  • Jim M

    I think SM is referring to the inevitable and depressing row when, say, the Gibraltar Three and Billy Wright appear on this memorial.

  • Jim M

    Good point re Lost Lives – I always saw it as the ‘Troubles Book of the Dead’. But maybe it shows we don’t need a public memorial as we already have one – it’s just one people have to pick up and read? It’s actually more appropriate in the context of contested space…

  • mickfealty

    It only shows the power of naming everyone together. A memorial would be far more accessible, and powerful. It would also help clear ground for a new chapter for NI. And lay actual ground for some homeless ghosts.

  • mickfealty

    Present mindset. It’s both exhausting and unsustainable. This simple idea would cut nicely against the grain of that mindset by “doing the right thing”.

  • mickfealty

    It’s a truthful account. That would be a refreshing change from the effort put into maintaining ‘the optics’ as you like to put it.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t see why any of that would disrupt the plan for a memorial. Unlike those many many RTA’s the injury figures are multiples, and the trauma attached to abduction, torture and murder (a social betrayal of a different order to an RTA) means that the actual dead are only the tip of the iceberg.

    It has taken time for nations like Spain to even approach this territory. The killers had to be appeased for sake of peace for long enough for the peace to take hold. I recall Madrid in 1986 was still skittish and nervous.

    But the truth is that many of the most innocent victims (often slaughtered singly in or near their own homes) remain publicly unnamed and will remain so until something like this is undertaken by someone.

  • mickfealty

    A chronically split mind is a sign of mental trauma, surely this would be a step forward in that regard so long as it is honestly and simply done?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Lost Lives gave context to the deaths. A memorial with just names would make them equal when clearly they aren’t.

    It would be vandalised. And in many cases understandably so, Imagine going to see a memorial with someone close to you on it. And you see the name of the person who killed them in the next row.

  • William Kinmont

    These examples will be heros to some and villains to others, but even if you do take the attitude that they were villains if their names on the plaque they didnt exactly get away Scot free.

  • mickfealty

    I note all these negative scenarios relate to what others might do TS.

  • Mike the First

    None that I’m aware of, but I’d say there’s a big difference between a book which explained that your loved one was an innocent victim and your loved one’s killer was indeed a cold-blooded killer who was then themselves killed on such a murder mission (perhaps even the self-same murder mission), and a memorial simply giving their names side by side.