I am almost 69. If I am lucky I may have a few years still to go. Since I was 20 my life has been lived with the spectre of the ‘troubles ‘ hovering over me. The troubles have defined my country, my life and those of my children.
I do not want them to define the lives of my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren.
I have mourned with those who have lost loved ones, I have grieved for their loss. I have condemned each atrocity and hoped it would be the last. I have sat up until the wee small hours to ensure my children got home safely, listening to the hourly news in case another bomb had gone off in town.
I have stood on the Ormeau Road on internment day while the city was erupting around me. I’ve lain in bed listening to the sound of gunfire and the sound of petrol bombs hitting their targets. I’ve worked in areas of Northern Ireland where it was a relief for my family to know I was home safe at the end of the day.
I’ve had enough. I no longer want to think about it. I’m sorry for those who have lost loved ones. I too have lost loved ones, albeit not by a terrorist hand. But loss is loss no matter how it happens.
I remember them but I don’t allow their loss to dictate how I live my life. The chances of catching those who committed these horrendous crimes are rapidly diminishing.
Meanwhile, relatives and friends are allowing their lives to be defined waiting for justice. Well, I don’t want to grieve anymore, I want to put the troubles behind me.
I want to get on with my life without listening to the rhetoric that has made up our news over the last few days. I would imagine to the younger generation we might as well be referring to the atrocities of the two world wars for all this means to them.
We are not allowing our young people to move on, so instead of moving on they are moving out and crossing the water. Most of them will never return.
Life is very short. You look in the mirror or you look at your grandchild and you think how did I get here so quickly. It seems like yesterday. I would appeal to those involved in politics and those who can influence them to draw a line under the past.
Both sides have been guilty of atrocities. Go back into the assembly. No red lines. Get back in. Sort out our day -to -day problems. Deal with Same-Sex Marriage and ILA when you sort out health, education and compensation for those victims waiting all these years.
Time is short for those on waiting lists who may die while waiting for surgery.
I know some won’t agree with my thoughts on this but you know something you get to an age where it doesn’t matter what others think. I have no intention of offending anyone.
I would say to those relatives and friends of the victims, don’t let the terrorists define your life anymore. They have already taken away most of your quality of life.
Live and enjoy what is left of it. I imagine your relatives would want you to be happy. Grieving has to end at some stage. Remembering a loved one doesn’t.
Ann Allan was born in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland in 1949. She moved to Belfast in 1966 where, in 1970 in the midst of the troubles she married across the religious divide. She serves on the #OpenGovNI steering committee. She also vlogs here
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This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.