Ronan Kerr; will his name be the last on the memorials? Any decent person will be hoping so but you can’t help but fear that his will be joined by others over the course of time. His is now the latest PSNI death in the long history of terrorist murders in Northern Ireland, just below Stephen Carroll who was gunned down just over 2 years ago.
For many young people in Northern Ireland, these murders will seem all the more shocking, out of the blue and totally at odds with the current lifestyle Northern Ireland has grown to know. I was reminded just how many people on Twitter and Facebook were being exposed to the real horror of these things for the first time – many of them young enough to have been shielded from the worst of the Troubles. Also of note was the very real sense of anger on social media, a platform for people to join together in instant protest at the murder of a young man, going about his business on a regular Saturday afternoon. The #notinmyname hashtag was quickly latched on to and became the vehicle for those unable to do anything else but stand shoulder to shoulder, across communities both on and offline.
It was best summed up by one tweet I saw:
“Do you know a 25 year old? Someone who’s just started a new job? Well, someone just like that was just killed today, for no reason at all.” – @theronster
Also very sad was a tweet from Philly Taggart, member of Omagh’s own rising stars Colenso Parade:
“RIP Ronan Kerr. Can’t believe what happened today in Omagh. He was in my class fourth and fifth year. He was a total gentleman.” – @PhillyTaggart
The futility of the murder has baffled me. It furthers no cause. Wins no battle. Wins no support.
If anything it will forge communities together. Increase solidarity. Make people more defiant to defend the peace we now have.
Perhaps the forthcoming election will be a chance for those who have previously been apathetic about politics in Northern Ireland to come out of the woodwork, become part of a record turnout and vote. Show the world that this is the way to make a change. Peaceful change.
To place a bomb or other such device under a car in order to kill someone is ultimately a cowardly act. It’s hardly a fair fight and the perpetrators don’t have to witness the outcome, no mental image to live with for the rest of their life. Somewhere, there were celebrations of this cowardly success. Someone saw them, someone knows who did this. It’s time for those people, the ones who know the names, to be real heroes, to stand up for something that really matters and come forward and share that knowledge.
And all this – #notinmyname