Thursday 18 January 2018

I don't understand why we let extremists set agenda

The town of Westport in County Mayo came to a halt for the funeral of Royal Marine Robbie McKibben. Shops closed, and the cathedral was full to overflowing.

Some 50 of his fellow Marines, many in uniform, were present, and one of them played the last post over the grave of this fine young man, killed in action on UN duties in Afghanistan.

Twelve years ago, a young Irish soldier killed while serving with the British armed forces on a UN-mandated mission would have been accorded no such farewell in Ireland. Indeed, the last time that I can remember an entire town in the west coming to a halt for a military-style funeral was in 1994, when Sligo buried IRA man Joseph McManus, who was shot dead by the off-duty UDR he was trying to murder in Fermanagh. Which is not quite the same thing, you know.

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