Remembrance in a contested society
By Dàlia FERRAN for Northern Ireland Foundation
16 August 2012
Joe Austin (Vice Chair of National Graves Association (NGA)) and Harry Donaghy (Messines Project) led a discussion on the relationship of remembrance, revisionism and each other’s views of the truth.
The event was facilitated by the Irish artist, Breandán Clarke, as part of Draw Down The Walls, a project that uses art and language to examine Belfast’s controversial interface walls.
Joe Austin represented the views of those who commemorate Irish Republican dead:
Mr Austin introduced the NGA and highlighted the educational aspect of the organisation.
He noted that remembrance does matter, at least to remind us of the horror of conflict.
On the other side, Harry Donaghy represented those who commemorate British war dead:
Mr Donaghy pointed out that how we choose to remember is a very relevant question.
He warned about “unpacking and re-packing history”, because different interpretations of the “truth” are in contact one with the other.
He agreed with Joe Austin about the need to create more “conversations that we as a people in society have to be engaged in”.
In the subsequent discussion, attendees spoke of mutual understanding and respect. The hope is that this leads to reducing gaps between future interpretations of history and remembrance.
Draw Down the Walls is a partnership between North Belfast Interface Network, Golden Thread Gallery and the Lower Shankill Community Association.