Seanad Éireann - Volume 96 - 18 November, 1981

Death of Reverend Robert Bradford, MP: Expression of Sympathy.

Mrs. G. Hussey: I am sure the House will join with me in extending our sympathy to the family of the late Robert Bradford MP, who was brutally murdered while carrying out his work as an elected Member of the British House of Commons. Every one of us will deplore this latest terrible deed carried out by those who would purport to act in the name of Irish people. It adds in a new and terrible way to the appalling total of death and sadness in both communities in Northern Ireland. I therefore ask the House to agree to ask the Cathaoirleach to send the condolences of this House to the widow of the late Robert Bradford MP.

Mr. E. Ryan: I should like to join the Leader of the House in expressing our sympathy to the relatives of the Reverend Robert Bradford and, indeed, to the relatives of all of those who have died in the past few weeks. It is quite clear that this violence is an effort to stir up civil war in the North and the prospect we have is of even more deaths in the future. I hope this will not take place but, in the meantime, I join in offering our sympathy to all those who have been affected in the past few weeks.

Mr. Ferris: On behalf of the Labour Party I should like to be associated with the previous two speakers in an expression of sympathy on the death of the late Robert Bradford. What a pity it is that there are still violent people in this island, North and South, who are prepared to set back the democratic process. Recently a step forward was taken towards the eventual reunification not alone of our people but of our country. It is a tragedy that a democratically [710] elected person, carrying out his constituency functions, should have been taken suddenly in the prime of life in this tragic way. Our party would like to be associated with the Leader of the House in extending our sympathy to his family and to his colleagues in his party.

Mrs. McGuinness: I should like in many ways to join with Senator Gemma Hussey and Senator Ferris in expressing sympathy with the family of the Reverend Robert Bradford on his tragic assassination. That anybody should be assassinated is a tragedy, and that a Member of Parliament should be assassinated is indeed a tragedy. However, there is something that should be added to this. We should all join in expressing sympathy with Mr. Bradford's family and those who have lost him in a personal way, but I should like to make it clear that this House does not condone the sort of scenes that went on at Mr. Bradford's funeral yesterday. Sympathising with his wife does not necessarily extend — and I feel I should say this as someone who was born and brought up not two miles from where Mr. Bradford was shot — to agreeing with all the opinions Mr. Bradford expressed during his life. I may be attacked for saying this, as it is supposed in this country to go against every convention to say anything about someone who is dead, but I just want to make reference to that. Secondly, I should like also to quote from the words of Mr. Éamon de Valera on a previous occasion when someone was killed. Coming from Northern Ireland I feel not only for Mrs. Bradford but also for the mothers and wives and relations of all the people who have been killed in the Northern violence. In 1922 Éamon de Valera said:

The killing of a human being is an awful act, just as awful when the victim is the humble worker or peasant unknown outside his own immediate neighbourhood as when the victim is [711] placed in the seats of the mighty and his name is known in every corner of the earth. It is characteristic of our hypocritical civilisation that it is in the latter case only we are expected to carry out and express out horror and condemnation.

I know Members of this House sympathise with and feel horror at the death of any person but I should like to emphasise that I feel horror and condemnation at the death of all who are killed, not merely because they are Members of Parliament. I should like to draw attention to the television statement by Mr. Jim Molyneaux of the Unionist Party who said he did not feel he was any better than anyone else, or should be protected any more than anyone else, or that his possible death would be any more important than anyone else's.

Members rose in their places.