Two states celebrate Sean O'Callaghan
Memorial service saw an extraordinary cast of characters honour a good and brave man, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
'If we can't forgive Sean O'Callaghan, who can we forgive?" was asked by a born-again Christian last Wednesday at the wake Sean's family and friends held after an extraordinary memorial service, full of great music and challenging words.
This one-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment is close to the family of Eva Martin, a 28-year-old UDR soldier killed in 1974 in a mortar attack by an IRA team that included the 19-year-old O'Callaghan. Like many of the retired and serving Northern Irish police who knew Sean had murdered Inspector Peter Flanagan that same year, yet who came to St Martin-in-the -Fields in Trafalgar Square to honour him, he admired his courage.
Having realised he had been a foot-soldier in a squalid sectarian war, Sean had atoned for his crimes on a grand scale by risking his life as a highly-effective Garda agent within the IRA - unpaid at his own insistence -then giving himself up to serve time in jail and spending the rest of his life fighting violent ideologies.