Friday, May 29, 2020

the last book I ever read (Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, excerpt eleven)

from Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe:

When the McConvilles and other families finally aired these revelations, the press responded with shock that a tactic more familiar with grisly civil conflicts in places like Chile or Argentina might have been employed against British citizens. This was a parallel that the families were only too happy to highlight: the group that they established was inspired by the mothers of the disappeared who gathered at the Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires. Fewer than twenty people disappeared during the Troubles. Because the country is so small, however, the impact of each disappearance reverberated throughout the society. There was Columba McVeigh, a teenager who was abducted by the IRA in 1975 and never seen again. There was Robert Nairac, a dashing British Army officer who was working undercover when he disappeared in south Armagh in 1977. There was a Seamus Ruddy, a thirty-two-year-old Newry man who was working as a teacher in Paris when he vanished in 1985.

This push by the families for answers would coincide with the peace process and the IRA cease-fire could only have been embarrassing for Gerry Adams. Just as he was positioning himself as a visionary who could see beyond the horizon of the conflict, the families of the disappeared were directing a series of loud and increasingly indignant queries at him by name. “We have a simple message for Gerry Adams and the IRA: our families have suffered far too much. Please bring this nightmare to an end,” Seamus McKendry said in 1995. He continued, pointedly, “We feel it is hypocritical for Sinn Féin to expect the status of a full democratic party while this issue remains unresolved.”

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