Wilson swallows bitter pill of futility: The Irish Senator Gordon Wilson lost his daughter Marie in the Enniskillen bombing. This is what he said yesterday after he met the IRA

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The Independent Online
I HAD a copy in my hand all the time I was there of the Marie Wilson book, if nothing else to reinforce me and to give me the strength of mind and body to go through with it. We had a friendly meeting. I was given a statement from the IRA, which seemed to me to be simply saying no to my request for peace. They were saying to me that they would not abandon the armed struggle, that the armed struggle was not their initiative, it was their response to the British presence in Ireland.

We had a discussion and in all honesty I have to say it was friendly. Voices were not raised. I spoke at some length, as Marie Wilson's dad, as one who had suffered at their hands.

I told them about the suffering that is Northern Ireland. I told them what I found in Warrington and what those people were suffering.

I said there was no excuse for the killing of innocent civilians, including Marie Wilson and the two innocent little children in Warrington and dozens of others. I made it very clear that I was aware that they had their losses. I was very aware, and said so, that they were not the only ones who were in the business of shedding blood and killing and shooting people.

They apologised once again for Enniskillen and for Warrington. They said they do not condone, nor indeed do they set out to kill innocent civilians, men, women or little children. I said: 'I am sorry, I cannot accept that.

'You do not convince me, and I cannot accept, that the bomb you placed in Enniskillen was intended only for the security forces - which in itself was wrong, in my opinion. Because you knew that there would be civilians there and that 99 per cent of the people who were there would be Protestants.

'I do not believe your statement when you tell me that you placed two bombs in the middle of Warrington that killed two children, where there were no security forces.' That was what my heart and mind moved me to say.

I tried with all the sincerity and honesty and integrity I could muster to get over my simple request with as much conviction as I could. They listened, but they made no change in their position. Perhaps it was naive of me to imagine that because it was me they would. That word has been used: I have to live with that.

I left disappointed and indeed saddened. It seemed to me that nothing I had said had in any way moved them. I made the point: 'Are you then telling me that we in Northern Ireland have to go on for another 20 or 30 or 40 years suffering as we have suffered, and that is your response? ' In effect, they said, that is it.

There are those who have said that my talk to the IRA cannot do any good, and can only do harm. I went in innocence to search for what my heart told me might be a way forward. I was disappointed I didn't get more. I got nothing, so in that sense perhaps I was duped.

I appealed to them as one human being to another, to try to spread a little of the love of God. But my talk was quite pointless, in relation to what they said to me. I do not believe the discussion has brought us any closer to peace, not an inch.

They told me history is on their side. They seemed totally convinced of that. I said: 'Could we forget about the past? Could we think about now? Could we think about the future of this lovely land? ' And they said: 'We will not change our ideals or our struggle. We feel we must do and continue to do what we are doing.'

(Photograph omitted)

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