Sir, – In his article “Irish rebel music is more than an endorsement of the IRA, it is a way to connect with the past” (Opinion & Analysis, May 28th), Jack Sheehan writes that to sing a song like Celtic Symphony with its “Up the ‘Ra” lyrics is “not necessarily to endorse but to remember”. In his research, he doesn’t say if he asked surviving victims of IRA atrocities, or relatives of deceased IRA victims, what memories are dredged up for them when they hear the Celtic Symphony. He writes that, for the singers, the overriding feeling is of a “genuine connection to a shared tradition of resistance”. I see. So they can conveniently forget or overlook the stark reality of the murder and maiming of civilians, members of An Garda Síochána, Army and Prison Service, while (unwittingly in most cases) belting out with gusto this paean to a proscribed organisation. The victims are invisible in the context of this nebulous concept of “resistance”. In a sense, they are being victimised twice.
While the lyrics “Up the ‘Ra” must dredge up terrible memories for the relatives of the victims of terror, the perpetrators would be forgiven for interpreting these words as a ringing endorsement of their activities and the illegal organisation to which they belonged.
If any of the mutations of the IRA succeed in launching a sustained campaign of violence, will any songs written about them be also filed under what Jack Sheehan refers to as the “shared tradition of resistance”? – Yours, etc,