Opinion Analysis

Saturday 17 November 2018

Denials do more damage than the original crime

Last week I argued that the link between the killing of Paul Quinn of Cullyhanna in October 2007, and the killing of the two Pearson brothers at Coolacrease, Co Offaly in June 1921, was that both were carried out by people using the cloak of the IRA to cover what, in any normal society, would be seen as a cruel and criminal act.

On reflection I realise that there is a further link. In both cases a shocked society took refuge in denials which protect associates or descendants of the perpetrators. Official Ireland sacrificed Paul Quinn to the peace process in order to protect Adams & Co. The Pearsons were sacrificed to national and local pieties -- the claim that they were subjected to a "proper" IRA execution.

Denials do more damage than the original atrocity. When those in authority avoid naming names, decent people despair and fall dumb, the community closes in around the dirty secret, and civil society is clouded until the original offence against the moral order is brought out in the open and atoned for.

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