Seanad debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Ábhair Ghnó an tSeanaid – Matters on the Business of the Seanad


10:30 am

Photo of Vincent P MartinVincent P Martin (Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I have learned that the famous Billy Brennan's barn, celebrated in the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, is for sale later this week. The previous owners were very helpful and cooperative and facilitated access to it by the numerous conducted tours. I am just putting the marker down that I hope anyone who buys it will respect its heritage and its place in that wonderful community.

Recently there were reports in the media on a decision and then the reversal of that decision to commemorate or celebrate or glorify slaughter and incidents related to the Northern Ireland Troubles.I find that very upsetting but I try to see it through the eyes of those who organised it. Many of them may be suffering deep pain and anguish themselves and we must take that on board. However, expressing their pain by going down that road will be highly divisive and counterproductive. It will not heal them and will not heal the country. Perhaps they could take a leaf out of the book of the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris. I do not know if the Leader saw his recent interview on a TV chat show on a Friday night. That show is disproportionately full of sad stories of late, but that interview was uplifting. Drew Harris lost his father in the Troubles in 1989, when he was a young member of the RUC. He said:

In these things you have perhaps a choice, I was married [with children] and you have a choice in terms of the household your children are going to grow up into, and so I worked hard at not being bitter ... it was very difficult ... nobody would be more upset than my father if he thought I was just living an embittered life.

It is easier said than done but we must try to shake off the bitterness that comes with the pain. We must remember, when we try to glorify recent slaughter, that there are surviving family members still with us - the parents, children, brothers and sisters. We must try to embrace an authentic peace, an embracing and genuine peace. I hope people in pain will take strength, inspiration and hope from the courageous way Commissioner Harris has dealt with a loss that he said is traumatic and awful and which he thinks of every day of his life.


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