Irish Peace Talks: Forgiveness lost as latest victim of violence is buried

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AS party leaders yesterday hammered out the final details of the peace settlement, 75 miles to the north a 35-year-old man was being buried on a bleak hillside.

Just as the settlement will be assured its place in history so too will Trevor Deeney, all be it as a footnote. Mr Deeney, a a man with four stepchildren, was shot dead on Tuesday by the INLA, the last victim of sectarian violence before the settlement.

Only the massively hopeful or misguided will believe the settlement will at a stroke put an end to the killings, but for the moment Mr Deeney's name is the last on the list of victims of 30 years of violence.

While the party leaders yesterday talked constantly about compromise and forgiveness there was scant mention of such noble actions yesterday at the Ballyoan Cemetery, neatly laid out on a hillside overlooking Londonderry's Kilfennan Estate and the River Foyle.

The Protestant burial, attended by up to 300 people, was led by Bishop James Mehaffy, the Church of Ireland's Bishop of Derry and Raphoe. Sometimes his words were lost, carried away on the icy wind. But his talk was of condemnation; condemnation of the evil which had led to Mr Deeney being shot as he sat in his car with his wife outside their home. Condemnation also of terrorists from both sides of the religious divide. There was talk too of the significance of Good Friday and of Christ's sacrifices for man. But of forgiveness and understanding, there was nothing.

Mr Deeney was sitting in the passenger seat of the family's Renault Megane when he was shot through the front passenger window. The gunmen ran around the car and opened fire once more as he tried to escape through the driver's door.

Amongst the tributes laid on the grave of Mr Deeney, whose brother Geoffrey who is serving life for murder, was one signed "from your friends and mates at the Maze Prison".

Police are still holding one man in connection with Mr Deeney's killing.