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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Let Bygones be Bygones

Mick Hall • 15 April 2006

Recently the redoubtable Mick Fealty who, with his colleagues, runs the Slugger O'Toole web site —a site which centers on life and politics in the north of Ireland/NI— posted a piece about the death of Siobhan O'Hanlon, a senior member of SF who died in the prime of life leaving a young family behind. Even by the standards of debate on Slugger the response from some posters to the site was extremely sad, brutal and, for me at least, yet another example of the lack of constructive leadership within the Unionist community since the DUP became the largest party. What prevails is an inability to even make an attempt to put the past behind them, let alone actually do so. It was the bitterness and small mindedness displayed by some who posted comments on Ms O'Hanlon death that I found so difficult to accept.

With the death of Siobhan O'Hanlon, there seems from some to be no attempt to recognize a common humanity which mourns the passing of a fellow human, the more so when they go before their time and leave behind a young family. All the writers to Slugger can concentrate on is Ms O'Hanlon's past membership of the PIRA. That during the latter years of her life she played an important role in bringing the armed struggle of that organization to a close is totally ignored. As too is the role she played in searching for common ground between the north's two communities, so that the place could at least be governed in a civilized way. One does not have to be a full blown supporter of the Peace Process to understand for a majority of the north's people, jaw jaw has been an improvement on war war.

I just wonder, if the type of attitude which was displayed by those who objected to Mr Fealty posting the announcement of Siobhan O'Hanlon's death, had been displayed by the people of Europe at the end of WW2, what type of societies would the countries who today make up the prosperous nations within the European Union have become? After all, in occupying and brutalizing much of the European Continent, the German armed forces and those who served in them were guilty of partaking in monstrous crimes on a scale that makes the troubles in the north 1969-97 look miniscule in comparison.

When Willy Brandt was greeted in a friendly fashion in Poland in December 1970, should the Poles have spit upon him? The same when the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had served in the German army during WW2, travelled to France, the UK and Holland? Of course not, for despite their often dreadful experiences, the ordinary people of these nations and those who represented them politically realized if life is to go on and prosper, they must put the past behind them. This did not mean in the process they must deny what happen during WW2, nor forgive or forget the crimes committed, let alone endorse what occurred. It is just that if humanity is to move forward life must go on; and to continuously hark back to the past with hate and bitterness will only stifle future generations.

The current tragedy in the north is there are people in influential positions who are determined to turn the clock back, which in reality is something beyond the ability of human-kind. In any case, the very idea is horrific, as a moment's thought and analysis would tell one the past is rarely the contented paradise we often see it as through the fading lenses in our rose covered spectacles. Housing was disgracefully poor, health care inadequate and working conditions appalling; this was the daily fare of the north's Protestant working classes, never mind their nationalist neighbours. What is needed from the Unionist leadership is for them to cease harping back to a past that rarely existed outside of the north's ruling elite, like Lord Brookeborough and his ilk. They need to get some of that courage they are forever prattling on about. They need to lead their community instead of tale ending them: an example of which is the DUP's refusal to demand the standing down of Loyalist paramilitaries and the public decommissioning of their weaponry.

If real leadership were to be showed by the Unionist politicians, then all that might happen when the death of someone like Siobhan O'Hanlon is announced, is that the only comments from her political opponents would be along the lines of, "whilst we differed with her politically, RIP, and our thought are with her family." In other words, what happens throughout Europe and most parts of the civilized world.





















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Index: Current Articles

18 April 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Grave Secrets
Anthony McIntyre

Spoiled Rotten
David Adams

Let Bygones be Bygones
Mick Hall

Urgent Memo — Judas Was One of the Bad Guys!
Dr John Coulter

Cluedo in Donegal
Anthony McIntyre

Easter Message
John Kennedy

Óglaigh na hÉireann Easter Statement
The Sovereign Nation

IFC Easter Statement, 2006
Joe Dillon

Lincoln's Despair
John Kennedy

Fred A. Wilcox

Hamas Being Forced to Collapse
Sam Bahour

Profile: Philippe Val
Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Speech index

11 April 2006

Shed No Tears for the Donaldson Family
Geraldine Adams

Buried in Secret
Anthony McIntyre

The Donaldson Dilemna
Bill Ashe

Motive for Murder
Mick Hall

Victim or Pawn?
Dr John Coulter

Agent of the Peace Process
Anthony McIntyre

Happy Easter
John Kennedy

Where, O Where, Is Our James Connolly?
Paul Maguire

Nice One, Tony
John Kennedy

Putting on the Poor Mouth
Seaghan O Murchu

Spare Us the Cures from Quacks
Dr Seamus Kilby

Profile: Antoine Sfeir
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters page has been updated:

Standing Up to the Enemies of Free Speech


Irish Republicanism and Islam


Real human rights - without any religious blackmail


Resisting Censorship


and more...

Freedom of Speech index



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