Monday 20 February 2017

We all need to forgive - but never forget

Published 23/05/2015 | 02:30

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21 in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21 in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Louis Mountbatten
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle Co Antrim which is Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation centre
Prince Charles meets Gerry Adams

Perhaps one should not be surprised that the handshake with the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, dominated media coverage of the historic visit this week by Prince Charles to Ireland. It was, of course, a significant event in strengthening Anglo- Irish relations and the peace process; following on from the State visit to the UK and the Queen's visit. Such events are hugely important in rebuilding British- Irish relations, given the legacy of our troubled past. But the exaggerated media focus on Sinn Féin at each fragile turn can be overplayed.

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More than anything, this visit was an act of personal reconciliation and healing from a family bereavement by Prince Charles. Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, his beloved grand uncle Lord Mountbatten was brutally murdered with two other family members and a local boy, Paul Maxwell, by an authorised IRA bomb. The Mountbatten boat was blown to smithereens on a sunny summer day in Mullaghmore Bay on a family fishing trip. It shocked the world.

On the same day, 18 British soldiers were murdered in Northern Ireland by the IRA. It was one of the worst days in the Troubles. Everyone in Ireland and beyond remembers the Mullaghmore atrocity. given the heinous nature of republicans killing an innocent family enjoying a holiday in Ireland.

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