Remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Commemoration to mark the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182
Remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.,
at the Commemoration to mark the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182
Ahakista, Bantry, Co. Cork
23 June 2010
Ladies and gentleman, Minister Khurshid, Minister Kenney, Ambassadors, Mayor of Bantry, Councillor, members of the Ahakista Memorial Committee, friends old and new.
It is with great sadness that we are gathered here today to remember the 329 innocent victims who lost their lives in the bombing of Air India flight 182 at 8:13am on the morning of 23 June 1985.
The loss of loved ones is always a devastating event, especially when it is so untimely. I can only echo the words of President McAleese here five years ago, when she said this is not how things were supposed to be. This was not their time and the sense of loss and grief remain as strong today as they were twenty-five years ago.
The terrorist attacks on the “Emperor Kanishka” and at Narita Airport in Japan were evil and cowardly. There can be no justification for the murder of innocents in pursuit of any political end. All who have been touched by the evil and destruction inflicted by callous terrorism utterly condemn these brutal, senseless, acts. It is vitally important that all democratic nations work together to combat terrorism in all its forms.
Those who use terrorism and violence in pursuit of their misguided objectives seek to divide people and communities with their agenda of hate and intolerance. But looking at those gathered here today I see only unity, common purpose and a shared grief. This feeling of grief and loss transcends all boundaries, it joins us as one people.
The tragic events of this day twenty-five years ago have forged unbreakable bonds between the peoples of three continents, bonds that cross the world. Each year, Ireland and the community here in Ahakista gladly open their arms to welcome the families and friends of the victims after their long journey to this hallowed ground, close to where so many perished. We are honoured by your friendship and offer whatever comfort and solace we can in your time of great sorrow. You will always be welcome here.
This sacred place, here on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, belongs to us all. It is a symbol that we will never forget the events of that tragic day or those who were lost. It is a rejection of the hatred and violence of terrorism.
To those gathered here today, I can only express my admiration for your strength, your courage and the unending love you carry for those who died. The many initiatives that have arisen out of this tragedy - the student bursaries, the great work of the Sankurathri Foundation and other charitable organisations, cultural exchanges between our countries and the annual pilgrimage here to Ahakista - serve as an inspiration and example to us all. These activities celebrate and honour the lives of those who died. Although they are no longer with us, they continue to touch and transform the lives of others.
I wish to thank you, the families and friends of the lost, for allowing us to share in the remembrance of your loved ones. I would also like to thank Minister Khurshid and Minister Kenney for their Governments support over the years and for being here with us today. I thank the members of the Ahakista Memorial Committee for their tireless work and Cork County Council for arranging this important event each year.
On behalf of the Government of Ireland, I wish to once again express our deepest sympathies and condolences on the great loss you have suffered. Those who were lost on that day will never be forgotten, they are with us always, in our hearts, in our memories and here, at Ahakista.
23 June 2010