It’s hard to crush Irish families.
Undoubtedly, you can stymie and block, push back and close down an entire generation’s search for the truth.
But in Ireland, families endure and their search for justice is unlikely to peter out after 20 years or 40 years or even 60 years.
Much better then, for the British Government to come clean on its dirty war which left hundreds of innocents dead.
The alternative is what we witnessed in Belfast city centre today: families united across generations to insist the British Government allows the truth to out.
There may still be some in the British establishment who believe that these families will give up their battle for justice.
But if so, they’re clearly weren’t standing with the rest of us outside City Hall.
For the reality is that the voices of the families of Ballymurphy, of the New Lodge Six, of the Ormeau Road (where both weapons used by the killers were provided by the state), of McGurk’s Bar, of Louginisland and of so many other atrocities — where those who were paid to protect life took life — will not be stilled.
A way to salve the wounds of the past was agreed by all sides back in the Stormont House Agreement of 2014 only to be binned by the British and their allies. But the past must be faced up to and wounds, on all sides, healed. That’s the message I took from seeing children, some of them great-grandchildren of victims of state-sponsored killings, on the streets with poster pictures of loved ones they never knew.
The British state is a powerful and enduring entity with the ability to deny truth and justice for eons if it wishes but Mrs May should note that the Irish family is more powerful and more enduring still.
Also lauding the values of Irish families was Senator Brian Kavanagh (pictured with me, below, in Rosie O’Grady’s) of New York who raised a glass to the Irish 40 Under 40 celebration in the Big Apple on Friday night. I was in the States for a day and a bit to attend the biggest business luncheon in Irish America, the Irish Business Chamber and Network gathering in Philadelphia, and to address the young leaders gathering later that day.
Senator Kavanagh (see full report here) urged the talented group of young people to take their lead from the values their families had given them: determination, fealty, compassion and community. And to do so, he said, meant the Irish descendants of immigrants, who had done so much to shape the modern America, would be on the frontline of the battle today in the US for Muslim and Mexican immigrants.
The 2018 40 Under 40 are a formidable bunch and join 400 others who have been recognised over the past 11 years. They come from all walks of life and all parts of the US and this year included a Broadway theatre director, a nun, an undertaker, a teacher and a district attorney. The represent the future of Irish America and, more than that, I’m proud to say that they represent our indomitable global Irish family.