This column by Fr Des Wilson first appeared on 8 February 1992 after eight Catholics had been murdered in attacks across Belfast including at the Sinn Féin Centre in Sevastopol Street and in the Sean Graham bookmakers.
Once again, good friends have been murdered by the police. In the midst of our justified anger our sympathy goes to those who have been bereaved. Those who died are good people, their families good and dignified people.
The love of the whole community is with them now. The murder of three more Catholics by the RUC will be excused with all kinds of facile explanations.
One explanation which democrats must not accept is that of “bad apples”. When the RUC kill Catholics or other democrats, their supporters, including some Catholics, talks about “bad apples” in the police.
When the civil service discriminates against Catholics we hear about “bad apples” there too. We are told that perhaps, just perhaps, there might be bad apples in the UDR as well.
The bad apple theory is discredited and should never be accepted by any democratic citizens. The evil lies within those corrupt and corrupting institutions whose policies are evil and whose purpose is to destroy a whole section of our population.
The latest murders have all the marks of being carefully planned and there is no doubt that democratic citizens, especially Catholics, must have an inquiry – but not as Mr Mallon embarrassingly requests, an inquiry run by the RUC and the government from whom the murderers came, but by the people themselves.
They have plenty of experience of holding their own inquiries, into police cruelty, into the killing at Cullyanna and many other public issues. It is for the people themselves to create their own public inquiry and for the people themselves to pronounce the verdict and to decide what should be done as a result.
The proper reaction to this latest set of murders is one of anger and Catholic people and other democrats must recognise that anger is not only justified but necessary. Otherwise they will drown in a sea of sentimentality poured out on them by prelates and presidents, sentimentality which insults the bereaved and solves nothing.
What a pity the trade unionists at the City Hall while the murders were taking place did not realise ten or twenty years ago that all workers had a right to work. If they had taken a stand in favour of workers whom they march and light penny candles for now, many murders would have been avoided.
Why is one section of the community entitled to raise fury if Peter Brooke sings while they are in distress, while others have to endure it in silence while a president simpers through her banalities, “How awful, these murders are against everything I am experiencing in Belfast?”
Soon she will persuade herself they did not happen, or if they did, the victims were responsible for their own misfortune. Good people killed, good families saddened. By whom and for what?
The whole community of democratic people will be certain of two things – these good people will be honoured by the love and sympathy given to their families, as to all the victims of this tyranny; and we shall renew our determination, again and again, to be rid of the tyranny which has crucified our people for so long.