In Northern Ireland we become so accustomed to the anodyne platitudes of Sinn Fein that it is possible simply to become inured to the noxious agenda which lies behind them. Thus when we hear the well-worn cliché that there cannot be a “hierarchy of victims” trotted out by West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann to defend an event she is attempting to organise in Stormont’s Long Gallery, it is important not to forget that not only is the event which she is proposing offensive and disgraceful, but McCann is quite aware that this is the case.
Of course every right thinking person will recognise that not only should there not be any equivalence between all of those who now claim or are claimed to be victims of the violence in Northern Ireland, but that it is deeply immoral to suggest that that equivalence should exist between those who died or were injured going about their legitimate business and those who died attempting to engage in acts of terrorism. In so far as establishing a “hierarchy of victims” is simply the exercise of making this distinction, not only must there be a hierarchy of victims, but not to establish one is an act of extreme and indefensible moral abrogation.
McCann wishes to host a reception in Stormont to celebrate the life of Mairead Farrell, who is a convicted IRA bomber and was shot dead in Gibraltar whilst attempting to cause death and destruction by launching a bomb attack there. To add insult to injury, the organiser is hoping to hold this event on International Women’s Day because she sees Farrell as an inspirational role model for young women! It is difficult to conceive of a more preposterous person to present as an aspirational, admirable figure for young people.
The agenda behind this event has the same motivation as other revisionist Sinn Fein campaigns. It is an attempt to confer retrospective legitimacy on a campaign of terror which was squalid, sectarian, indefensible, utterly needless and ultimately futile. There is simply no valid reason why this agenda should be indulged and it would be manifestly wrong to allow it to take place on public property.