If you spend five minutes to actually listen to families whose loved ones were killed you realise that collusion is not a media event. Collusion is the policy that robbed them of their loved ones and kept rubbing the salt of denial and impunity into the wounds.
If you stay quiet with your own version and theories and actually listen to these families will hear them saying things like:
“Look, the gun was supplied by the state, the information regarding my loved one was supplied by the state, the layout of my home/workplace/street was supplied by the state, the roads were cleared to give the killers safe passage by the state, the state was looking at the killing through their own cameras, the state then wiped the footage from the cameras, the killers were employed by the state and the go ahead for the entire environment was created and maintained at the highest state levels.” Or some pretty awful and even more twisted version of that. And it happened again and again throughout the years of conflict.
Then there is the response to that relative’s narrative.
It is some version of – “that is just republican propaganda and while there may be wrong doing in isolated cases they are rotten apples, those few should go to jail, and we were fighting the terrorists don’t you know.”
It is hard to explain what that denial does. It is an additional harm. And its impact is incredibly destructive.
For a family the identity of the person and their memory is connected to the circumstances in which they were killed. When those circumstances are contested then memory itself is contested.
When the term “recovery of memory” is used, it is in connection to the full truth of the circumstances when someone is killed. We cannot properly remember the person who lived and was loved until the full circumstances of the death is established. And that diminishing of humanity is destructive for us all. Denial of that memory is connected to a denial of the identity of the person. Denial of memory and identity is a grave crime that compounds egregious pain and interferes with the potential of healing in the long term.
Of course many families cope, heal and remember. Of course they do. And their courage and example is something that we should all cherish and value. But denial and impunity create a constant interference with that. When the RTE programme on Collusion screened last week we heard the words of the daughters of Terry and Maura McDaid. They shared with our nation not only the circumstances of Terry’s killing by Brian Nelson but also Maura’s early death as a result. They lost two parents to collusion.
So many families say when their loved one died another member of the family died too either in body or in spirit. The denial of truth and memory is a direct contributor to that pain. And that is the unseen but very real other cost of collusion.