Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

#Haass paper published

Tue 31 December 2013, 7:00pm

Folks here are the proposals from the Haass talks that has been put up on the OFM/DFM website

Paper opens with ‘We in Northern Ireland have come along way. From the depths of violence we have built an impressive, albiet incomplete peace.’

It goes on to say ‘Despite these positive steps , we have further distance to travel. Many continue to await the end of sectarianism and the peace dividend that all citizens’ should be due.’

On who they met

The Chair and Vice Chair prioritised from the start engagement with civic society and the public…During several visits to NI , the Chair and Vice Chair held more than one hundred meetings with a broad range  groups, panel members, and officials from across NI.

Harking back to Terence O’Neill they tell us we are at the crossroads

We are standing at a crossroads in Northern Ireland. This is a remarkable opportunity to make bold choices to address the issues that hold us back from meeting our society’s full potential. Further delay will risk an increase in levels of public disengagement. The passage of time—and the passing of those with information toshare and wounds to salve—will also deprive Northern Ireland of the chance to learn as much as possible about its history while there is still time to do so. This loss would compound the social and emotional costs of our prolonged conflict.

On parades it proposed the creation of

The Office for Parades, Select Commemorations, and Related Protests

A new institution to be established via legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly is the Office for Parades, Select Commemorations, and Related Protests (‘the Office’). The Office shall serve a strictly administrative function intended to efficiently facilitate the vast majority of parades and other events that are non-contentious and to promote the resolution of any related disputes through community dialogue or mediation.

Any individual or organisation wishing to organise a parade or select commemoration, as explained below, shall be required to notify the Office no less than twenty-five working days before the planned event, with the exceptions noted below. Working days means all days except Saturdays, Sundays, and public or bank
holidays.

On flags

We reached no agreement on any of these proposals. Without a larger consensus on the place of Britishness and Irishness—for which there must be a special and protected place alongside other identities, national or otherwise, represented within our society—we could not reach a common position on the flying of flags and thedisplay of other emblems, which are in fact manifestations of these identities.

On dealing with the past

The time to rise to the challenge is now. Northern Ireland does not have the luxury of putting off this difficult, but potentially transformative, task any longer. Many of those with experiences and knowledge critical to what took place have already died and, with them, the ability to unearth many facts and emotions necessary to better come to terms with the past. The passage of time will only further erode our ability to do so. Individuals and civil society have done much groundwork, but the moment to make these efforts broader and more systematic has come.

On victims

The first is to do all that is possible to ensure that a range of high-quality services exists for those who need them. The second is to ensure that those individuals have a full understanding of the services available and can pursue those for which they are eligible. Should an individual wish, access to an advocate-counsellor will be provided to work in the individual’s interest to provide support and to help him or her understand and request relevant services.

On acknowledgement of past acts

Now is a time for all citizens of Northern Ireland, and the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, to reflect on the previous decades. This is not to suggest that blame for the violence is equally shared across society. It is not. A minority sought to advance agendas through means outside the law, while the overwhelming majority adhered to it. The burden of the past rests most heavily on those, whether paramilitary or state actors, who acted outside the rule of law. The vast majority assiduously eschewed violence, yet some may have contributed to the environment within which it flourished. To publicly acknowledge these realities does not equate them, but all such acknowledgements will help bring about a better climate.

To advance reconciliation and healing at both the individual and societal levels, acknowledgments should be more than apologies. Saying sorry is necessary but not sufficient. Full acknowledgements would include an unqualified acceptance of responsibility, express an understanding of the human consequences for individuals and society, and include a sincere expression of remorse for pain and injury caused. Statements of regret and reconsideration are also welcome.

On investigation bodies

The multiplicity of institutions and vehicles for justice in respect of conflict-related incidents, however, creates confusion and places enormous burdens on the police. The HET, PONI, and inquests also suffer from the perception that they have proceeded too slowly… It is our hope and expectation, however, that the high-quality and thorough investigations that will be conducted by the HIU will in time make it the preferred option for victims’ families. Inquiries will remain the purview of governments. But there is much that we can and should improve regarding the conduct and completion of HET and PONI investigations.

While it is not necessary or desirable to restart reviews or investigations into all conflict-related events, we believe it is necessary to establish through legislation a single Historical Investigative Unit (HIU) to take forward the remaining caseload of the HET and the conflict-related cases before the PONI. Once the HIU is fully established, the HET and the PONI will transfer all their records relating to completed cases and information relating to investigations not yet begun to the HIU. In order to avoid confusion and duplication of effort, investigations underway by the PSNI will be completed by the PSNI.

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Comments (49)

  1. You can scroll through the 40 page document …

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  2. Thanks, Alan.

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  3. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Thanks…. but all those days and all that coffee for this…….. Haass must have been in dispair locked away with these people for all that time

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  4. socaire (profile) says:

    Could you imagine Cameron or Obama, lying up in bed with his chéile leapa, listening to the 0700 News? What would either have said when they heard the news that Haass had failed (NOT us but Haass) to get agreement over SFA. Who gives a f**k? The sooner this artificial mickey mouse heath robinson jumped up county council disappears up its own fundament, the better for us all.

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  5. iluvni (profile) says:

    They’ve reached rock bottom.
    I got to page fifteen for I started skimming…..do I get a medal?

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  6. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    It’s good they published it.

    I am sure it represents something to build on.

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  7. So we got NADA. No agreement day after all.

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  8. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Liking the Haass document. The public reaction will be very interesting. Let debate commence!

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  9. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Iluvni, you’re a better man than me. Page 15!

    What a load of nubilous words. Sounds to me like the work of Humphrey Appleby. I apologize to the ghost of Kafka for ever calling him a deadly bore.

    There’s no point in passing round another tray of homemade multidimensional fudge. What we need is strong medicine from HMG.

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  10. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Liking the section on the past.

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  11. Section on recording oral histories is interesting, noting they have no more validity in court than hearsay, providing libel protection for those giving their history (though not to anyone quoting them), and allowing options for delaying publication until future time or death.

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  12. Oddly, on page 38 the [potential] Implementation & Reconciliation Group (IRG) is responsible for compiling a Troubles Timeline … they might want to consider outsourcing the Historical Timeline Group to Wikipedia and getting people to compile it for themselves.

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  13. The remit of the [potential] Commission on Identity, Culture & Tradition includes gender, bill of rights & language as well as flags.

    Anything else anyone wants thrown into that bag of hot potatoes the Executive can’t agree on?

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  14. The [potential] Commission on Identity, Culture & Tradition “will make structured discussions public & carried via TV, internet & radio” …

    It might be streamed online and saved in an online archive, but I bet broadcasters will only want to carry snippets. Maybe CoICT Today will be broadcast for half an hour before or after Stormont Today?!

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  15. Lastly, it’s amazing that the panel of parties managed to avoid directly mentioning or referencing the Consultative Group on the Past (“Eames/Bradley”) in the 39 page draft agreement.

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  16. sherdy (profile) says:

    Is it just me, or is James Joyce’s Ulysses a more enjoyable work of fiction?

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  17. sherdy,

    The movie “Groundhog Day” would be more appropriate.

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  18. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Sherdy, rewrite Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ so that the narrator ( = RH) flees aghast with the Lady Madeline ( = MO’S) from the doomed mansion, and leave everything else as it is. Who plays the parts of ‘the physician of the family’ and the ‘valet of stealthy step’ is up to you.

    I never managed to read Mervyn Peake’s novels all the way through in the late sixties, but after the last lot of days I guess I might enjoy them.

    Did you ever read John Buchan’s ‘A Lucid Interval’? Maybe that’s the sort of recipe that we need.

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  19. David,

    If you want Poe might I suggest that The Pit and the Pendulum might be more appropriate.

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  20. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Joe. Three words from ‘The Bells’ before I go to bed.

    They are ghouls.

    Maybe when certain barbarous elements of local culture are finally interred some great author will write an obituary entitled ‘The Overdue Burial’.

    Edgar Allan Poe’s great-grandfather was an Ulster Protestant. (In case you thought I was goin soft.)

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  21. sherdy (profile) says:

    David, – ‘Edgar Allan Poe’s great-grandfather was an Ulster Protestant’.
    Is that why staunch Protestants all seem to be Poe-faced?
    I might suggest the physician could be played by Dr Alasdair McDonnell, and I have ideas for the ‘valet of stealthy step’ but fear of the inside of jails prevents me from naming suitable candidates.

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  22. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I would like to hear peoples thoughts on the document, showing evidence that they have studied it. Particularly the section on the past.

    It seems to me that it is very interesting, and worthy of study. Questions for commenters:

    *Do these differ materially from Eames Bradley? How?
    *Are there concerns for the integrity of rule-of-law, as suggested could be possible on The View by Dame O’Loan (e.g. someone convicted of murder getting off as a result)?
    *Do the proposals allow “false narratives” to be perpetuated by any sector of society?

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  23. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, sherdy. I sometimes wonder if certain people take their cue from two lines of Poe:

    I dwelt alone
    In a world of moan…..

    Have a good day. I’m off to Portstewart for a solid afternoon’s eating. Can’t see a lot of documents being pored over…..

    The talk back in the USA is that Richard and Meghan are both confined to bed, and being fed weak tea with a spoon by concerned members of their families. I feel really sorry for both of them.

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  24. sherdy (profile) says:

    David, – I hope that when they were here at least they supped with a long spoon – about the length of John Taylor’s barge pole.
    I actually hear they both boarded their plane home in strait-jackets, shouting: ‘Never ever again’!

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  25. “Weak tea” ? Don’t think so. More likely to be double Scotches or double Ryes. Some reports say that Haass failed. Such a mis-justice; he and his team deserve medals for their perseverance in trying to knock sense into a bunch of morons (well, some of them).

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  26. sherdy (profile) says:

    MrJoe – Is that where the rye smile comes from?

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  27. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    On first skim through, it seems pretty thin stuff – and on the past (the main issue I’m interested in here) there’s definitely more dancing around the sensibilities of the paramilitaries than you’d have hoped for.

    But I like the stuff about exploring patterns of violence to get to the wider motivations behind the paramilitary campaigns (and the relatively small number of extra-legal killings by state forces). If anything I’d like to see though some more hypotheses added to the starting list: ethnic cleansing in border areas, the abuse of Marxist theory to scapegoat Protestants and provide cover for sectarian targeting of Protestants, beliefs in “false consciousness” which sought to dehumanise Protestant targets, the role of belief in “blood sacrifice” as a moral good, the role of religious practices such as worship, confession and absolution in boosting terrorists’ sense of moral worth, mistaken beliefs about the place of Britishness in Ireland which informed the selection of British targets, the role of Republican ideology more generally, as well as looking at historical patterns of sectarian violence in specific communities around Northern Ireland.

    I think looking at the violence with each of these themes in mind could identify some previously hidden patterns and help explain why the IRA really killed the people it did. Their own self-explanations are likely to be as bogus and self-serving as ever.

    To be honest, I place more weight on works of historical research such as Richard English’s book on the IRA than on what any new process might throw up – but I do think there is more to come out if the former paramilitaries can see their way to coming clean with the rest of us. Not many signs in the Haass document though that we have that breakthrough yet

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  28. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    I should add, we should look at all the extra-legal killing not just the IRA, but as the Haass document says, clearly the spotlight is on the paramilitaries (mainly the IRA).

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  29. sherdy (profile) says:

    MU, – Do the killings by the unionist paramilitaries (with acquiescence or co-operation of unionist politicians), British army, UDR, RUC and B Specials not warrant investigation then?

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  30. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Sherdy
    I would like to see the paramilitary-government cooperation being investigated, indeed that’s an area where a truth process is important, as truth may never come out otherwise.

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  31. Nevin (profile) says:

    Here’s a curious tweet from Richard Haass:

    Richard N. Haass ‏@RichardHaass 16h

    full text of 5 party panel document: hoping for robust debate over how NI can best address parades, flags, & its past

    I understood that the various drafts came from the Haass team, not from the Panel of the Parties.

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  32. sherdy (profile) says:

    Charles, – Its wonderful to find such innocence/naivety in these sick counties. But do you really think the British government would ever let the light shine on the details of the dirty war that they fought.
    They have form in all of their former colonies and have never emerged as in any way honest brokers. Whatever makes you think they will start here, as we just don’t have any leverage over them?

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  33. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    MU:

    If anything I’d like to see though some more hypotheses added to the starting list: ethnic cleansing in border areas,

    (snipped long list)

    Sounds like an ideological shopping list rather than a proposal for political progress. Perhaps these matters could be studied in Peter Robinson’s proposed Unionist Academy.

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  34. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Sherdy,
    I answered that one above – the answer is yes. But obviously it’s on a much, much smaller scale in the case of the state actors, so should attract a proportionate amount of the resource available for this. The reality this process is mainly going to be about investigating Republicanism.

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  35. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    CS,
    It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list – just making the point that we need to spend the bulk of the time examining Republican “thinking” if we’re looking at the patterns of violence, for the simple reason that Republicans carried out most of the violence. Happy to also look at the relative small part of the picture which revolves around wrongdoing by security forces, who remember lost 3 times as many people (all of them illegally) as they killed (some of whom they killed legally while using reasonable force in anti-terror operations).

    Sorry to be a broken record, but it seems some (I can’t possibly guess why) seem keen to try and skip over that tiny detail.

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  36. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Mainland Ulsterman, I must say I found myself intrigued by your claim that there was an, “… abuse of Marxist theory to scapegoat Protestants and provide cover for sectarian targeting of Protestants.”

    I would be eager to know just which aspect of Marxist theory it is to which you refer and precisely how it was applied as you claim to “…provide cover for sectarian targeting of Protestants.” In fairness, I might add that I find your claim to be ridiculously absurd.

    As to those “killed legally” by British security forces (or, Occupation Forces, as we more colourfully consider them to be), I don’t suppose it has had occasion to cross your mind that, apart from such victims being just as dead as those “illegally killed”, their people might find the descriptions of their slaughter blithely passed over as “legal” somewhat more wounding and insulting as a result ?

    Where nationalists are concerned, the killing of any Irish natives by British forces is murder, plain and simple. It also follows, of course, that the execution of colonial forces and their local agents by the IRA would, in Irish terms, be justifiable as acts of war against an illegal colonial force of occupation and, as such, perfectly “legal”. But I don’t suppose you “get that”. It would require a man who is prepared to turn the coin and see the other face. Not much chance of that I imagine.

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  37. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    MU

    It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list – just making the point that we need to spend the bulk of the time examining Republican “thinking” if we’re looking at the patterns of violence,

    No, it sounds like you’re more concerned with an official process for validating certain unionist articles of faith. I don’t see how that is going to get us anywhere. I’d say the same if the republicans tried it.

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  38. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I mean, you’re ignoring the fact that a lot of people who were targetted or killed were not Protestants. Mary Travers to pick a recent example.

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  39. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    “Where nationalists are concerned, the killing of any Irish natives by British forces is murder, plain and simple. It also follows, of course, that the execution of colonial forces and their local agents by the IRA would, in Irish terms, be justifiable as acts of war against an illegal colonial force of occupation and, as such, perfectly “legal”. But I don’t suppose you “get that”. It would require a man who is prepared to turn the coin and see the other face. Not much chance of that I imagine.”

    I don’t see that as a “nationalist” position per se. I suspect there are many in the SDLP who would see themselves as nationalist and would not ascribe to this description of their views.

    The expression “justifiable in Irish terms” is an odd one.

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  40. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I meant to edit, but it didn’t seem to work, to add that not just the SDLP but also nationalists in FG and FF would not have supported the use of violence either, against police in NI for example, in such a broad brush statement.

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  41. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    CS,
    I’m not ignoring that at all. And I’m not asking for this to be a wholly unionist process. But obviously any look back at the violence is logically going to be mainly about Republican murders. That’s not a unionist point of view particularly, just stating the obvious. It’s not to say other murders won’t also be looked at. The big picture matters and that’s why I am

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  42. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    oops … that’s why I am returning to it.

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  43. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I think that whether we are unionist or nationalist or neither, we should want truth to come out regardless of whether it is “good” for our own side or not. The truth is a healing thing, and will be good for politics as a whole.

    Indeed I think that a “one sided” process in which republicans fail to come out with the truth would damage republicans, because the process of being honest is good for ones sense of moral integrity and sense of self worth.

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  44. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    For an example, Gerry Adams is now widely seen as not having been truthful. That damages him. Those who have admitted past wrongs are recognized as having at least been honest, the honesty is welcomed. And their honesty releases them and to some extent they get a degree of redemption, especially if they are contrite about the past.

    Gerry Adams is unable to attain this redemption. He is trapped.

    The other parties may be able to, by engaging in the truth process.

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  45. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Rory Carr,
    I was referring to the Republican attempt to present Northern Ireland as a purely colonial situation – for a full taking apart of that fallacy, read Stephen Howe’s superb “Ireland and Empire”. This “analysis” to quote Howe “invoked a teleology by which the province must itself be destined for imminent decolonisation, the final unfinished business of the global collapse of empires.” In this, Ulster Protestants are presented as the enemies of anti-colonial “progress”, or stooges of a colonial regime (rather than just ordinary people exercising the right of self-determination like everybody else). That way, a campaign that say targeted and killed people (who lo and behold happen to be in large part Ulster Prods) for being in the police or army is spun as not sectarian at all but an anti-colonial struggle. That’s the kind of nonsense (which you seem to have swallowed yourself) which I was talking about.

    On the legal killing thing, it is perhaps a brutal term, but it only refers to situations where the security forces acted within the legal framework which does allow them to use lethal force in some situations. It is without controversy that some at least of the people they killed were paramilitaries carrying out terrorist attacks at the time. That’s all I was saying – not that all people killed by the security forces were killed legally, just that some were.

    I do the other face and I apply exactly the same rules to all players in the Troubles, British, Irish or both, Protestant or Catholic. When you apply the rules fairly and treat everyone as an equal, you will find you need to spend most of your time dealing with the Republican machine, because it prosecuted most of what we call the Troubles and they are now the people most desperately trying to avoid taking responsibility. However, it’s not working for them any more – people want answers and most of the answers need to come from those fools.

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  46. weidm7 (profile) says:

    I very much don’t like this kind of language: “A minority sought to advance agendas through means outside the law, while the overwhelming majority adhered to it. The burden of the past rests most heavily on those, whether paramilitary or state actors, who acted outside the rule of law.”

    By definition the British Army acted within the law, cause they write the law as they see fit and the IRA, by definition acted outside it, because their enemies wrote it. It should take about ‘justice’, ‘unjust killings by paramilitaries and state actors’. It sounds like DUPspeak to lump a load of moral blame specifically on SF, I’m disappointed that SF have come out in support of everything in the document as that language is heavily biased. It seems like the DUP is intent on putting blame on the IRA, it looks like SF mollified the language a bit but it’s still clear to see.

    Talking about overall blame for the violence isn’t even useful, the document should acknowledge that everybody felt that they were fighting a just fight but that a number of things happened which were immoral and unjustified, committed by individuals on all sides. It is right that the truth surrounding these events be uncovered.

    It’d even be nice to acknowledge that acts of bravery and selflessness happened on both sides as well, that the Troubles, nor any other period in history, was not characterised by one side completely bad and one side completely good, good and bad things happened, but violence is wrong and should not need to be resorted to.

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  47. sean treacy (profile) says:

    Charles,I am devastated to learn that you are unable to grant Gerry redemption.You have driven the final nail into our collective coffin.Finally in the words of the oul boy in Dads Army: “we are all doomed”!

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  48. blackie (profile) says:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/it-is-unionist-cowardice-that-is-largely-to-blame-for-the-failure-to-reach-an-agreement-in-northern-ireland-9032967.html

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  49. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    weidm7,
    With respect, your post typifies the kind of Republican failure to acknowledge the past that we’re struggling with here:

    “By definition the British Army acted within the law, cause they write the law as they see fit and the IRA, by definition acted outside it, because their enemies wrote it.”
    You’ve got into a muddle here and don’t seem to understand some basic about the law. The British Army does not write the law, let alone write it as they see fit. The law for example of murder derives from the common law and isn’t even legislated, it is derived from a body of court decisions developed over centuries. But more significantly, which aspect of the law in particular do you think was unfair on the terrorists? The reality is, whatever holes you can pick in any legal system, most Western criminal law systems are pretty similar, so “the Brits made the law” doesn’t get you off as an excuse. Even under Irish law, the IRA were proscribed, assault is assault, murder is murder, planting bombs in wrong etc. In fact you’ll search long and hard to find a legal system anywhere that allows the IRA to do what they did – and you won’t find one.

    “It seems like the DUP is intent on putting blame on the IRA …”
    Which is wrong because …? The IRA are blame-free here are they? In a conflict where they were responsible for 60 per cent of the deaths and which they admitted was their struggle to “free” Ireland from “the Brits”? Which even they now admit was, erm, wrong.

    “Talking about overall blame for the violence isn’t even useful, the document should acknowledge that everybody felt that they were fighting a just fight …”
    This is morally vacuous – and also so confused as to be meaningless. Is it some kind of excuse to “feel” you are in a “just fight”? Followed through, this would let off any killer from moral responsibility for their actions, as long as they meant well. Does Peter Sutcliffe have less guilt because he honestly believed voices told him to kill women? Is he just the same as the police who caught him? This is flakey stuff.

    There is a fairly simple answer to all this and it’s that individuals take responsibility for their own actions. Not blaming historical forces, the need for revenge, ideology or whatever it is drove people to murder.

    It’s not good enough that you acted out of a belief your country was being occupied by a foreign invader, if it actually wasn’t and you were in reality fighting against the majority of the people. It’s not good enough that you were sick of IRA violence and blamed all Catholics for it therefore killed them. And it’s not good enough to ignore your rules of engagement and seek out and shoot people you think might be terrorists. This is why acting within the law is a good test.

    And if you weren’t happy with UK law, then show me another legal system you would prefer the terrorists to be judged by. I really don’t mind which one you choose. Looking around the world, I think the IRA can count themselves lucky it was the British security forces they took on and not the US, China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, pretty much anywhere else. They weren’t perfect but the IRA got off very lightly in comparison to what they meted out on the rest of us, as the low conviction rate for Troubles murderers shows. This injustice is part of why coming to agreement now depends so much on what SF can do.

    So please, enough of the victim complex from terrorists please.

    What do you think?
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