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Facing up to atrocities can free us from baleful past

When Leo Varadkar admitted in the Dail last week that Fine Gael in a previous incarnation had been guilty of atrocities including murder during the Civil War, he was asking for a full admission from all those who had engaged in the recent Northern Ireland troubles. It was a welcome recognition of the reality of our bloody history at a time when it is fashionable to pretend that the past is irrelevant.

Date-wise it was dead on. Next Thursday is the 89th anniversary of one of the most horrific of these events. In June 1922 the original Sinn Fein had won a majority in the general election, but the party had split over the signing of the Treaty and those who had opposed it had resorted to armed force. A Civil War began between the Free State and the Anti-Treaty-ites who were known as the Irregulars.

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