Decades on from bloody killings during Northern Ireland’s troubles many victims’ families remain impatient for change to ensure hatred does not pass down through generations, the former Irish president said.
The pain felt by loved ones of those who died in the violence that gripped the country is still fresh, Mary McAleese said, as she addressed a conference on the legacy of the conflict.
Relatives of those killed, including the brother of a 12-year-old girl shot by the British Army and the widower of a woman killed in the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Belfast’s Shankill Road, are part of the Troubles, Tragedy And Trauma: Northern Ireland’s Historic Legacy event in London.
Chairing the event Mrs McAleese, who is a distinguished professor in Irish studies at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said: “It tells us something about the shelf life of these stories, the shelf life of grief, and of sadness and of these people who have been what you might call, I believe, patiently impatient.”
Many of those affected are eager that the bitterness felt in the wake of often-controversial deaths does not continue in years to come, she said.
She added: “There are people who become impatient for change. They do not want their story to be the subject matter of spores that create hate for the future and recreate stories like this in every generation.”
The conference comes a day after the conclusion of a two-week review of dozens of the most highly-disputed legacy cases which are awaiting inquests decades after the killings took place.
They span allegations of security force misinformation to frame the IRA for bombings, state collusion in loyalist murders, inept police investigations, and IRA men shot dead by the army as part of a claimed policy of shooting to kill in which civilians were killed in the cross-fire.
Lord Justice Weir, who is leading the review, has said solving controversial questions about Northern Ireland’s violent past will help the country move on.