Leading article

Editorial: Our violent past is nothing to celebrate

Once again, we are confronted with the issue of actions and words that cause hurt and offence and how we change that narrative in our still divided society.

Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed posters and effigies of elected representatives being burned on Twelfth bonfires, resulting in widespread outrage and entirely justified condemnation.

This week we have anger over pro-IRA singing at the annual Wolfe Tones concert which closes Féile an Phobail in west Belfast, as well as 'Brits out' chanting at the unveiling of a mural of a burning police vehicle.

Féile is a hugely successful and well organised event, which this year attracted around 100,000 people attending more than 350 events.

Director Kevin Gamble pointed out that representatives from all communities are welcomed to various events, adding that no major internment bonfires took place in Belfast due to a music night put on by Féile to divert young people.

There is no doubt that Féile is a constructive demonstration of what can be achieved through a pro-active, focused and engaged approach. It is therefore regrettable that unacceptable chants and singing cast a shadow over what has been an enormously positive festival.

Meanwhile, Larne footballer John Herron has been suspended from his club after a photograph emerged showing him wearing a top with the words 'Ooh Ah, Up the Ra'.

It is profoundly disappointing to see young people participating in anything that can be construed as the glorification of IRA violence.

Many of those singing or wearing slogans will have no experience of the terrible years of conflict and the pain inflicted on so many people, which continues to this day.

Similarly, the selling of Parachute Regiment and UVF flags at an Apprentice Boys parade in Derry at the weekend is another example of the crass and insensitive actions which inflict further anguish on those who lost relatives on Bloody Sunday.

All sides suffered during the Troubles and it is depressing that some people have so little regard for victims. They continue to display the sort of attitudes that stoke sectarianism and bitterness and will stop our society moving forward.

Those attitudes need to be challenged and a different narrative must come to the fore which states firmly and unequivocally that the awful events of our past are not something to be celebrated.

Leading article