Ceasefire Celebrations: Alas Not For Me

 

By Paul Gallagher

paul gallagher

Victims Campaigner

never again

 

30/8/2014

wheelchair

31st August 1994 should have been a day that we all should have been happy about.  The IRA called a ceasefire that would eventually lead to our ‘peace’.  The killing and bloodshed would be coming to an end.  There would be no more people, like me, put into wheelchairs.

impact

I was not happy that day.  I felt so sad, my stomach churned.  Why could the war not have ended a year sooner?  I would still be walking about.  I would not be sitting watching the news on TV showing the ‘celebrations’ outside Connolly House.  Listening to the cavalcades of black taxis and cars beeping their horns, playing rebel music from the Sinn Fein election megaphones, waving their Tricolours.

challenge

It was a real bittersweet moment for me.  People were outside revelling in the street on the way home from the pub.  The mood was jovial.  You could hear the singing and shouting.  Somebody knocked the front door.  A woman asked to use our toilet on her way home.  She was in good form, a few drinks on her.  She asked us what we thought of the ceasefire.  We quietly responded that it was good news but inside we had mixed feelings.

nightmare

There was an eerie quiet about the ceasefire in our house that day.  None of us really spoke about it.  We were all feeling sorry for ourselves.  We had a right to be.  My family had been held hostage and witnessed UFF gunmen pump a volley of bullets into me just a matter of months ago.  I nearly died in front of them.  Now it seemed that peace had arrived – just a bit too late though.   I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep.

difficult questions

I am sure that this was a feeling that was felt all over our country.  I am sure that there were people looking at empty seats and at their loved ones in wheelchairs and thinking why could this day not have come sooner.  C’est la vie.

in memory

I look back now and see the two 1994 ceasefires as significant. As things to celebrate.   As seeds of hope in a time of despair.  The ceasefires led to the peace process.  People are walking our streets today may have been dead if the ceasefires had not been called.  That is something to be thankful for.

reakity check ahead

Milestones are there to be marked but I hope that this one and the many historical events that happened here can be commemorated with dignity and respect.  I understand where the joy and celebration came from that August day but people need to think about the legacy of the conflict for those who were bereaved and injured.  There is no celebration in this.

 

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2 Responses to Ceasefire Celebrations: Alas Not For Me

  1. Patricia McCann says:

    I understand Paul, its important that people like you have voice and I believe it is time4truth, there are so many unresolved issues. Keep up the good work voicing your opion and telling your story. best wishes.

  2. Dear Paul, thank you for your solemn words and wisdom and thank you for speaking out, you represent many of the forgotten voices in our past and present. There is nothing to celebrate about violence at any level, especially when we hear about the consequences of what violence does to the individual, family and community. There is a moral obligation on all of us to remember how someone like yourself has suffered, acknowledge and recognise that suffering, and ensure that violence, in all its forms, is removed from our society.

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