The QUIET and the NOISE of the PAST – By Brian Rowan

 

Last August in an interview for UTV on International Day of the Disappeared, Anne Morgan spoke to me about her hopes for another search.

Her brother, Seamus Ruddy, was disappeared by the INLA in France in 1985.

“At the moment, we have a lot of hope,” Anne said as she described “very good work behind the scenes”.

These things happen quietly and off stage. Another search for the remains of Seamus Ruddy has now begun.

The background, as explained to me, is that that INLA and linked Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) reexamined all the information it had. This began a couple of years ago.

“We came across a rumour which initially appeared insignificant,” a source explained.

It led to further information and renewed contact with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains.

On several occasions since then, IRSP and former INLA members visited the forest in France where Seamus Ruddy was disappeared, including in the spring of last year – just months before that interview in which Anne Morgan spoke of her hopes for another search.

Willie Gallagher of the IRSP is one of those who has been in contact with the Independent Commission: “I don’t wish to make any comment until the search has been completed,” he told this website.

It is understood that the Commission has been given “very specific information”.

This is the quiet work that attempts to answer some of the questions of the conflict years – including that dark practice of disappearing bodies.

In the wider frame, it feels like the past has become the new ‘war’ – the peace battles in which words are today’s bullets

Piercing, wounding; hurting not healing.

Why does everything have to be so political – so loud and public? The negotiations on the past – the debates on the past – the peace wars?

That poisonous, divisive commentary – spat out so routinely. A broken record in a broken place.

It seems the peace and the past have become this fear of losing.

Why is the past still within the frame of a police process?

Left with politicians, the legacy issue will continue to be a battle over British National Security, Irish Government disclosure, and IRA and loyalist cooperation with any process.

This debate cannot, should not, be controlled by governments and political parties.

Nor will selective inquiries help.

All sides need to stop fighting a war that is over; need to look at themselves – listen to themselves; think bigger than their demands.

We need something that will work. We need honesty about the limitations of a truth process. We need to address the amnesty question – the issues of prosecutions and imprisonment. We need a different approach.

What we need is help. Help from outside that narrow political and governmental frame. Help from outside of us.

And before we travel the world to talk about our peace, we should think firstly about finishing the job here.

Think about the words we use – words that do nothing for peace of mind.

Answers are best achieved in quiet processes – not in loud debates.

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