The unnamed casualty of Heaney's poem was just one among the thousands of 'accidental' victims of 'The Troubles'. A fisherman, a drinker in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of those deaths passed off by whichever side was responsible as regrettable, unfortunate, grave and distressing, a tactical error in a 'just' war. Caught up in a bomb, "blown to bits out drinking in a curfew others obeyed", Heaney asks "how culpable was he that last night when he broke our tribe's complicity?"
I'm writing this note a couple of days after two men delivered some pizza to an army base in Antrim. Last night a policeman was shot dead, security alerts are rearing their ugly head again and suddenly it is 10 years ago. Someone out there knows who carried out these attacks. Can the perpetrators still rely on their tribe's complicity to remain invisible, undetected, free to kill again? Or have we finally grown up? Someone puzzle me the right answer to that one.
(Programme note from 10th March 2009)