Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Annual Day of Reflection on the Troubles
On this day, we remember all those who lost their lives in the course of the Troubles. The profound loss felt by the families who lost loved ones, and by their communities, is immense. These deaths not only changed the course of history on this island, they also left a legacy of loss and pain for so many to bear.
This year is an especially poignant year for reflection. In 1972, 479 lives were taken; it was the greatest number of deaths in any single year of the Troubles. This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of two of the darkest days of our shared past: Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday. Twenty-three people died and one hundred and forty-five more were injured over the course of those two events alone. It is important that we reflect on that immense loss. To do so requires of us to acknowledge and make space for multiple stories, and the different perspectives of all those who lived through those years. There cannot be one history of the Troubles, but our grief is a part of our common humanity.
It is never easy to speak about such dark parts of our shared past. But the alternative, to forget, is not an option, and remembering challenges us to constantly strive for a better future. Our approach to the legacy of the past must be guided by the rule of law and empathy and compassion for each other's pain. True reconciliation and remembering demands it.
It is the decent thing to do. It is the right thing to do.
In difficult times, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the many strengths that we have and the breadth of what we can and have achieved, particularly when we are challenged. The memory of such dark times should strengthen our resolve to ensure that nobody else has to suffer the pain and trauma faced by the families of those who we remember today.
I stand in solidarity with all the families, from all communities who have suffered the loss of a loved one in the course of the Troubles. Today, we remember the victims, who died, respect the survivors still with us and reaffirm our aspiration for mutual
understanding, justice and peace on this island.