Twenty-five years after Greysteel atrocity

 

Sir, – “May their sacrifice be our path to peace” is the message at the bottom of the memorial to the eight victims of the atrocity at Greysteel which happened 25 years ago on October 30th. With all the focus on the Belfast Agreement, we cannot forget any of the events of 1993 which repulsed everyone and led to a change in mindset and determination to not let any of those events be repeated.

In our house, when you were getting ready for school you could barely hear yourself think over the noise of Radio Ulster listing the numerous incidents of the night before as you tried to digest your breakfast. The children of the house would have preferred to turn the radio down and ignore it, as this was something that was never an issue in our area, a rural community where sectarianism never featured in day-to-day life, until 1993.

As we look at the progression here in 25 years, we could easily condemn this to the past.

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”.

The problem we have is that the leaders upon whom we rely have no understanding of our history, no comprehension of our people and rely on their own nostalgic interpretation of history that connects them to their peers, their families and their people.

It is the failure to recognise and tolerate difference that has created the current world polarisation bandwagon that every politician seems determined to jump on.

The more we look back on all of the politicians involved in achieving the Belfast Agreement that followed the turning points of the mid 1990s, the more they look like heroes in contrast with today’s leaders.

The real difference has been made by all those people who in everyday life have made efforts large and small, and when aggregated together over 25 years, have brought us to where we are today. Through tolerance and respect, through deep rooted connections, our community is stronger than ever.

As Fergal Keane noted when he summed up all the countries he reported on – it was the people who made the difference, not the politicians.

Businesses in our area have that same deep-rooted connection to our people, we have the same determination to prevail in face of the challenges, such as Brexit may bring economically, should we face another downturn – worse than the last.

There is one thing that we are not willing to sacrifice and that is the peace and prosperity that our communities have enjoyed in recent years.

So while politicians tell their stories to rationalise what is too complex for them to comprehend, we would ask them not to sacrifice that peace and prosperity at the altar of ideological political ignorance. – Yours, etc,

JOE Mc GINNIS,

Co Derry.