Why did no one in Sinn Fein tell the Ballymurphy families the Para’s could borrow Adams’ ‘public interest’ defence?

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Gerry Moriarty reports in yesterday’s Irish Times highlights the tragic case of the Ballymurphy families of eleven victims on and over several days after the introduction of internment.

One victim’s family has gone to the extreme, and no doubt deeply upsetting, resort of having the body of their loved one exhumed to find evidence that he’d been shot long after having been wounded.

John Teggart told UTV on Monday:

“I think anybody out there whose parents were murdered in cold blood – whether it’s by the army, IRA or anybody – would be entitled to what we are doing. …there should be no special deals and that is what the Ballymurphy families have agreed on.

Given the details of that day (9th August 1971) it is no wonder that the victims are angry and want justice to be done and seen to be done. The small mixed community which took the brunt of the violence was broken up forever.

Two things are worth noting:

  • The Parachute Regiment who were on duty that day were also found responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings. In terms of political analysis there’s a strong case that failure by the British to properly discipline these men led indirectly to their running off the leash in Derry.
  • Loyalists who also rioted and invaded the Springfield Park area, and B Company of the Second Battalion of the IRA, probably the unit most directly associated with Gerry Adams were also in action that day.

So it was no surprise that Adams was prominent in the launch of the campaign a few years back.

Successful prosecution of the case would have proven useful in highlighting the culpability of the British in putting assault troops into the front line of a civil conflict, and by implication exonerating the ‘bravest of the brave’, as Adams has called them

However Mr Justice Sweeney’s full and detailed judgement has jammed nasty stick in the spokes of both for Sinn Fein and more directly for the families looking for justice. The judge quotes Blair writing to Adams on 5 May 2000:

You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July [1998] for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement.

The letters are one thing. But it is hard to see how this public interest defence by Adams will not be used by the Paras in any future judgement to prevent their successful prosecution in the UK courts.

It also has to be matched against a sudden and concurrent drop in convictions against Republicans who were active before 1998. It’s certainly open to deliberation whether there has been a de facto moratorium in prosecuting for such offences.

As Newton Emerson put it on Twitter the other day:

If you consider the arrest of Padraic Wilson and Sinn Fein’s protest against it you begin to get a sense of just how deep the party must have believed this clandestine deal of theirs would go.

Gerry Kelly back in 2012 had this to say on the matter:

“Throughout the mid 90s and up until his release in 2000,Padraic Wilson played a pivotal role in building support among prisoners for the peace process.Since his release he has continued to play a central role in supporting and developing the Political Process. His arrest represents a very serious challenge to the political process. [Emphasis added]

It did not correspond with any agreement that had been made public at the time. Indeed Micheal Martin pointed out the party’s behaviour functioned to undermine public confidence in law and order.

But now, when you examine the Sweeney judgement there it is. Written in black and white in Sinn Fein’s own argument that…

…a number of the OTRs were strong supporters of the Good Friday Agreement, whose presence in Northern Ireland, free from the risk of arrest, would further the peace process.

To twist Mulley’s great strapline, “invisible agreements have invisible rights”.

But that very invisibility has allowed Sinn Fein to play two ends off the middle, taking advantage of a singular arrangement with the British, whilst funnelling victims groups into a courtroom corral from which, by dint of their own private agreement, no escape is possible.

In an OpEd in today’s London Times, Danny Finklestein has written a passionate essay about the importance of preserving the integrity of the law (£) which correctly highlights the real problem with #ShinnersList and the secret negotiations which gave rise to it:

We developed what looks and feels like arbitrary and secret justice…

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  • sherdy

    How sick can you get, Mick?

    You are now using/abusing another group of victims just to make another attack on Gerry Adams.

    You flogged to death the issue of the OTRs as virtually all Adams’ fault and now you seem to need another excuse.

    Time you awarded yourself a red or black card for blatant man-playing, I’ll leave the choice to you, or maybe other bloggers would have their own opinions.

  • Mick Fealty

    Unless you are going to challenge me on a specific point you think I have got wrong, the ref will have something to say about such blatant man playing.

    I’m not above letting people have a go, but this issue is way too serious for that.

  • Mick Fealty

    And yes, I agree. It is pretty sick, not to mention bizarre and gruesome.

  • tacapall

    Its pretty sick but absolutely true. I dont think its Mick abusing the Ballymurphy victims, he’s highlighting the obvious truth staring us all in the face. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander there will be no prosecution of any soldiers for any crimes pre GFA. Sinn Fein knew that all along and played out an electoral game with the victims families and now they’ve been caught out.

  • Morpheus

    When did our justice system become quid pro quo? The Paras who did the shooting absolutely 100% deserve to go to court and go on trial for opening fire on innocent civilians. The net result of the £200m inquiry is that we know they shot and killed innocent people running away and crawling for cover so regardless of SF, The British Government or anyone else for that matter they deserve to be put before a court of law. Personally i think that if found guilty they should sign an RPOM straight after conviction because serving time at this late stage serves no purpose but they deserve to have murderer on their record if they are found guilty to the families know that they did not get away with killing their loved ones.

    Mick, you quote Tony Blair but don’t include the whole quote which reads:
    “You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement, since by then all remaining eligible prisoners will have been released, and have raised other related issues around the 28 July date. I would be willing to have these matters considered rapidly, with the aim of deciding the way forward before 28 July. Prosecution decisions are, of course, a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General…..”

    Gerry Adams questioned if it was in the public interest to pursue prosecutions and Tony Blair left him in no doubt that prosecutions are a matter for the DPP and Attorney General. There was not even a suggestion of an assurance of immunity, amnesty or GOOJ cards.

    Where is the ‘deal’ there? Had he given into GA then maybe you would have a case but from what I see GA questioned it and TB set him straight.

  • Mick Fealty

    The emergence of SF’s deal means there is a powerful precedent now lodged in British jurisprudence… Which means the families are on their own…

    They might get still justice, but the SF deal makes highly problematic. They would have to come up with a public interest argument of their own as well as get over the already considerable evidential hurdles…

    SF’s own private interests and the those of the victims groups could hardly be more at odds… (as they were all along of course)

  • Morpheus

    You keep saying ‘deal’ but you have done little to convince me that there was a deal. In this thread you have pointed to half a quote when GA asked the Prime Minister if it prosecution was in the Public Interest and the PM set him straight – where is the deal there?

    The families need to get justice Mick just to prove that no one is above the law and that Lady Justice is indeed blind. If she peeps out now and again to make sure that the person on trial isn’t a soldier who shot and killed innocent civilians in the street as the ran and crawled for cover then it makes a farce out of the whole judicial system. That is not how the justice system is supposed to work.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    A subject close to my heart of course.
    I lived in the area from 1970 to 1979.
    I know what happened that night. I know what happened from the Monday to Wednesday.
    I know it because I saw it.
    And incidently I saw a lot of other stuff over a decade which is not helpful to republican, British or loyalist “causes”.

    I saw what I saw in August 1971. I was 19 years old. In two months time, I will be 62.
    But two things.
    After 43 years, nobody is likely to be charged with anything. That was clear in August 1971. Its just as clear now.
    And if anything, nobody after 1998 thought it likely that anybody was going to face Justice…in respect of anything done by anybody in the bad years.
    To some extent OTR letters are irrelevant. Justice is the biggest victim in the Peace Process.
    And an Enquiry is an unecessary expense. The facts are so clear that its simply a matter. Of exonerating the victims.

    As I have often said August 1971 was the first in a series of events that changed my life and mostly brought me to where I am today.
    Internment…McGurks…Bloody Sunday…Springmartin/Ballymurphy….Claudy…..Bloody Friday.

    All in the space of a year. The 20 year old in July 1972 was a much changed person from the 19 year old in 1971.

    Claudy…is there any of us who really wants to deny what we suspected in 1972.
    Likewise Bloody Friday.
    Is there anybody who really thought anybody would be charged after 1998?
    In the past four years, the victims at McGurks and Bloody Sunday have been exonerated. But shame on anyone for whom it took four decades to say “oh I wish I had known this at the time”.

    And the same with Ballymurphy.
    Mick …to his credit above…uses the word “victims” to describe them.
    Its outside the quote marks so I am assuming thats how Mick sees them.
    And I welcome that.
    The Public had long known the Truth about Bloody Sunday and McGurks and indeed Claudy long before Officialdom had sanctioned that the Truth be known….allowing the Johnny Come Lateleys to wring their hands in holy horror.

    The story of Ballymurphy is that there is a creeping acceptance that People were murdered and the Paras did it.
    In that very real sense the families have already won.
    They were denied Justice long before the first letter was issued by the NIO.

  • Mick Fealty

    But I’m not here to convince you Morph. I will say that our long sparring here yesterday was extremely useful in critically re-examining the detail.

    I’d say the #ShinnersList ‘deal’ is still deniable as an amnesty, but when we can see the letters to the PM it is no longer plausibly deniable.

    Look at the party’s response to the Wilson case? That’s NOT pre 1998. That’s ‘taking care of business’, post 1998.

  • Morpheus

    At least we are making progress, after all that critical re-examining of the facts we are now down to a letter GA sent to TB in 2000 asking if it was in the Public interest to prosecute and TB’s response to tell him that the decision to prosecute lies with the DPP and Attorney General and not him.

    From that do we now rule out Tony Blair as part of this ‘secret’ deal? Are we now to believe that the deal was really between SF and the AG/DPP?

  • Dixie Elliott

    The arrest of Padraic Wilson and the charge of IRA membership brought against him has nothing to do with OTRs or any deals in my opinion but for legal reasons I can’t go into it…

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    In a nut shell the shinners/provos have been found out and because of their actions those of in the Armed Services may benefit. Live with it. the victims of shinner/provo violence have had to.

  • scruff

    I think Morpheous has it in a nutshell.

  • cynic2

    Look …..the majority of the hunger-strikers were funneled into their graves when there was a secret deal with the Brits under the table but they and their families were not told about it. Those who later told the truth about this were derided as dissers, mentally unreliable and drunks.

    Then there were the revelations about Liam Adams and the other pederasts and rapists in the movement. Those victimized were told at the time to just get on with their lives and shut up. Even when it broke there was lie after lie to preserve the Great Leader’s image

    Dolores Price confessed to her role in the murder of Jean McConville and who ordered her to do it. Dismissed as a disser, mentally unreliable and drunk.

    The last week while OTR Gate raged here was a lovely little vignette in the Irish Press from a former PIRA mean alleging he had a secret meeting with The Great Leader and Marty in Dublin after he objected to being ordered to take some very very unstable and weepy gelignite to London for a bombing. He claims he was ordered to take it anyway and said he couldn’t understand why Gerry claimed never to have been in PIRA. Yet again,a drunk, unstable disser and opponent of the peace process they claim

    So why, why, with this pedigree are you at all surprised that even Republican victims have been sold out for the mates of the leadership? Get with the programme before you too are all labelled as drunks and liars and opponents of the peace process

    All pigs are created equal …..but when its been cured for a while some bacon is more valuable than the rest.

    Now, lets forget all that trial and justice nonsense – what about a nice new shiny Murph Memorial Murial for that taxi tour?

  • Mick Fealty

    My take is at the back of the Inside Politics Podcast on the Irish Times site:

    Discussion of #ShinnersList starts about 31 mins with Finola Merdith…

  • sean treacy

    An uncle Tom from a North Down garrison town suddenly pretending to be concerned about the Ballymurphy victims.

  • Flairbatov

    “You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July [1998] for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement.”

    This is certainly a fine example of Gerry Adams trying to have his cake and eat it. Nevertheless, what evidence is there that this argument had any traction? And maybe this argument was modified shortly after? Or made at a time when it looked unlikely that prosecution of state forces was ever going to happen?

    The fact of the matter is that the argument may have been made during the course of John Downey’s trial, but we would have to assume it was concocted by his barrister, who as far as I am aware was not a member of Sinn Fein. Let’s get real – the public interest argument is an obvious one and would have been made by any lawyer worth his salt regardless of Sinn Fein’s stance. And if you’re going to blame Sinn Fein for putting it into his head, you might as well blame John Larkin and NI21 while you’re at it.

    Crucially, Downey’s case was not decided on whether there was a public interest in prosecuting cases pre-GFA. It was decided on the basis that there was a greater public interest in holding public officials to their ‘promises’ than prosecuting Downey for the criminal offences.

    No precedent was set.

    If a member of the British Army is brought before the Court, of course he is going to argue that he shouldn’t be prosecuted because of the time that has elapsed since the commission of the offence. But that is because it is an obvious defence. Whether that argument is successful or not is not going to hinge on a letter Gerry Adams wrote to Tony Blair: it will depend on what political deals, if any, there are. There has been nothing posted since the outbreak of the OTR story that convinces me that there has been a deal to grant amnesties for offences pre-GFA. The conviction of Gerry McGeough indicates that this is correct.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “You keep saying ‘deal’ but you have done little to convince me that there was a deal. In this thread you have pointed to half a quote when GA asked the Prime Minister if it prosecution was in the Public Interest and the PM set him straight – where is the deal there?”

    @Morpheus,

    Henry McDonald seems to think that there was a deal.
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/27/ira-letters-good-friday-agreement-northern-ireland

  • Flairbatov

    Henry McDonald seems to come to conclusions using unverified facts. Amnesty letters? Why doesn’t he start his article by explaining why he believes that’s what they are. Journalism at its laziest.

  • Flairbatov

    To be fair to him, it was written last Thursday when facts were just becoming known

  • son of sam

    Mick
    Have the laws on “man playing” on Slugger been relaxed? Sean Tracey’s comment at 5-32 pm seems pretty pointed and uncalled for.It represents a mindset that Sinn Fein must always have a monopoly of concern for campaigns such as Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday.Apparently other parties and individuals are not encouraged to comment!

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Let’s be clear here, it was the Parachute Regiment, British Army and their government who were responsible for the murders and the hurt caused in this instance, nobody else. Any justice that may or may not come will be the result of the British justice system in place in Ireland, nothing else. How the Ballymurphy families have been looped into the OTR nonsense is beyond me.

    The suggestion that Sinn Fein and Adams (who else on Slugger, eh) should now be held responsible for a possible non-prosecution is about as low as it gets. I’ve been reading debates, discussions etc on Slugger for almost two years and only decided to start posting recently, mainly because I’ve been intigued by an unhealthy and quite frankly creepy and stalkerish slant develop to some of the anti-Sinn Fein and anti-Adams nonsense on here. It has been fascinating to watch I must say, a bit like that Graham Taylor “Do I not like that?” documentary that Channel 4 did on the former England football manager. There’s normally a mental breakdown about ten minutes after an obsession and I want front row seats.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry anymore. The lengths that Mick has gone to with his Adams obsession I thought could not be surpassed. Until this. It appears that the (multiple) school lessons dished out by Morpheus yesterday have done little to impress the facts upon people.

    Leaving aside the actual fact that there was no deal with OTR’s, ever, ever ever, ever ever ever, ever, apparently now the Shinners have been “funneling victims into a courtroom corral”, knowing all along that justice will be beyond them and that somehow it is the cult of Adams and his personality that has led this merry dance. The fact that it was the British justice system that failed the Ballymurphy families in the first instance in 1971 means not very much here. It was decided long long ago by the old Orange State and British Army not to prosecute or investigate those involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre. Should justice fail to prevail here, the fault will always lie there and nowhere else.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s simple Niall. And I’ve laid it out in the case against the Paras in the first of those bullets. I have not the least that doubt the paras did what the families believe/know they did and that the government of the day bears culpability for what happened next.

    I’ve not transferred their culpability to Adams as you misleadingly suggest. What I am saying is that the defence that Adams used in private (well, until last week that is) can and probably will be used as a defence by the paras.

    Further, I am also saying that Adams and SF must have known that at some point this would be an unintended consequence of their own deal making, even as they were encouraging the victims to get on the front foot and go for a prosecution.

    They presumed it was a dead letter. Mr Justice Sweeney has very much given it an afterlife all of its own.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    In the case of the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday murders, some people call for prosecution of the suspected murderers. It’s the Officers and possibly former Government members, who should face prosecution.

  • Charles_Gould

    To answer the question Mick poses in the title of this piece: narrow self interest of SF. Illustrating their approach.

  • Morpheus

    The Adams defense again? What defense did Adams give?

    When you put up half a quote earlier all it showed was that GA sent a letter to TB in 2000 asking if it was in the Public interest to prosecute and the rest of the quote which I supplied showed TB’s response telling him that the decision to prosecute lies with the DPP and Attorney General and not him.

    From that do we now rule out Tony Blair as part of this ‘secret’ deal? Are we now to believe that the deal was really between SF and the AG/DPP?

    If there was a deal why is it that the only 2 people who entered the UK who were wanted were arrested and out on trial?

    This ‘secret amnesty deal’ has to be the worst deal in the history of deals – it wasn’t secret because every man and his dog knew about it, it wasn’t amnesty for the reasons we have already discussed, and we don’t even know who this deal was between.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Morpheus,

    It’s a bit disingenuous to believe that a PM can’t influence the course of justice. Does anyone believe that Widgery was an independent Judge or was he following Government orders when he came up with his whitewash?

  • Morpheus

    So what you are saying is that it came down from the Prime Minister, through the Attorney General, that multiple police officers in multiple levels of command in multiple police forces had to suppress evidence to protect people the police hadn’t heard off for crimes the police didn’t even know were committed?

    Does that sound plausible?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    No, I’m not saying that. I’m suggesting that a PM, with a nudge and a wink, can persuade the A.G. not to proceed with individual cases.

  • Morpheus

    High profile cases…maybe at a long shot but for people the police hadn’t heard off and for crimes the police didn’t even know were committed? Hardly

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Politics trump Justice every time. Just two examples; Neither the McConville nor the Finucane families will see justice. And there are many more.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure what tree you guys are barking up, but this section from last night’s Spotlight pushes the story a little further down the road (http://goo.gl/wqbNnn):

    Declan Lawn: Downey wasn’t the only person about whom the official attitude changed. In fact that seem to have been a regular occurrence for ‘on the runs’ to be considered wanted and then later not wanted by the PSNI.

    In 2007 during the early stages of Operation Rapid 75 individuals were confirmed by the UK Attorney General as wanted. Two years later that number had shrunk
    to 16.

    John McBurney: Why is it called Operation Rapid? I would have a concern that at that point in relation to those last batch that that came through that maybe there wasn’t the same interrogation of files. That maybe there wasn’t the same cross referencing of intelligence.

    And some of those letters could, hopefully not, but could fall into the same category as the Downie letter.

  • Mick Fealty

    Joe

    The McConville’s killer may already have been protected by this arrangement, but as I say the fact that Adams cites a particular public interest defence means we now know the Finucanes are stitched up too. Significantly by arguments advanced by the leader of Sinn Fein.

    As for the effect, I think Declan has already pushed this past the prima facie stage. Hauling prosecutions off the list at that rate suggests that IRA murders certainly looks suspicious. On what grounds did the PSNI downgrade so many cases?

    We don’t know right now.

    But before there any moves to deal with amnesties or putting all of this to bed, we need to know. Another Haass process at which people get to pick and choose about which of their own advantages they choose to reveal to colleagues in other parties is not a realistic option.

    Another Athenian top down take or leave it fudge won’t do.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Talking about behind the door deals….

    According to Eamonn McCann, on the day of the Saville Report as the families prepared to leave the Guildhall to meet the people he went over the text of a statement to be read out by a family member which included references to Sharpsville and other massacres…

    He was confronted by a rather irate NIO woman who snarled…

    “That will have to be changed, everybody has agreed this was to be a day of reconciliation.”

    How could anybody agree anything wondered Eamonn, as the families had only just seen the report for themselves and had to give the thumbs up out the windows to show the crowd their approval of it?

    Had it been seen beforehand by others who agreed…beforehand ‘that this was to be a day of reconciliation’?

    And according to Jonathan Powell, McGuinness had said in Downing Street that ‘an apology would have sufficed’

  • Politico68

    Mick,
    Having crossed your path a few times now I get your hatred of Adams and SF. That’s fine, it is your right. I also get your stance regarding playing the ball and not the player in order to keep things civil, it’s a good metaphor and a fair rule. However, it is very hard to play a square ball when you deliberately launch a thread with half -truths and quotes out of context. Rather than encouraging considered debate, the discussion goes awry because the basic thesis in most of the arguments, are constructed upon a false and/or misleading statement. Not only is this bad for debate, but it makes slugger appear more like an over the fence bitch fight rather than a forum for ideas, opinions and constructive analysis. You were caught out nicely above by Morph who intelligently discovered your intention to deceive by failing to quote Blair in context.
    It may indeed transpire that deals done between the various parties during the course of negotiations during the peace process may in fact result in the families of victims having to suffer without closure, whatever closure means to them in their given circumstances. At the time Loyalists, Republicans, Unionists, Nationalists, London and Dublin may all have entered into agreements and side deals etc. to bring about a resolution.
    But, one thing that can never be dealt down is the simple fact that; the legitimate military arm of the United Kingdom, responsible to Parliament and charged with the defense and duty of care of British citizens did WITH MALICE, murder innocence. We are not talking about civilians caught in the crossfire of conflict, nor are we talking about casualties falling because they are abetting insurgents and we are NOT talking about members of the IRA. We are talking about the cold blooded murder of innocent people.
    I defy you or anyone else to present to me any document signed by anyone that acts as an indemnity against the above. If you do, I will show you a forgery.
    You state……
    ‘Whilst funneling victims groups into a courtroom corral from which, by dint of their own private agreement, no escape is possible.’
    This quote appears to suggest that you believe that SF and/or others are deliberately fooling the victims? I wonder do the families believe they are being herded in this way? If they do, I would be the first to advise SF to step back.
    Finally, your inclusion of Emerson’s Glib and juvenile tweet is in my view, wholly inappropriate. The subject warrants greater respect.

  • Gopher

    You will never now get to test your premise in a court of law thats the point Mick’s making and your not really getting. I don’t know what happened in Ballymurphy and thanks to SF nobody will really unduly care now the line has been drawn and SF drew it. The symbiosis of interest groups and SF to various incidents is looking somewhat impractical when one takes a real world view. And if the rumours are to be believed Alliance the SDLP and UUP wernt the only parties banging on Camerons back door begging him to placate Peter.

    The Kurt Meyer case is always interesting, his unit killed Canadian POW’s. Allies win the war Kurt is tried and sentenced to death (one of the judges wernt on message). Canadians find a legal work around and first commute and then release Meyer. Turns out that it was well known Canadians killed POW’s too and there is a peace to be won.

    Convictions now are unsupportable

  • Politico68

    I do get it, I just want to see the signed agreement that specifically gives an amnesty to the paras? Where is it? You can blame SF if it makes u feel good, but it still does not address the issue, where is the agreement?

  • galloglaigh

    Dont you all know Mick played GAA when he was wee? You have to laugh sometimes when someone needs to fill his ego so bad! I don’t post here too often, because it’s only people who oppose views similar to Mick’s who get carded. Thanks in advance for the (hopefully) black card.

    Yours

    Me!

  • Mick Fealty

    Politico.

    “You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July [1998].”

    Note he says ANY, which means Adams’ ‘private’ position is that there should be NO prosecutions against IRA personnel after 1998.

    There does not have to be an agreement to demonstrate SF private postion now made public is a pass out for the paras.

    Otherwise you would have to argue that the British Army must be held to a higher account than the IRA.

    Or to put more graphically, Kingsmill good, Bloody Sunday bad. Now, you might personally think that. So might Gerry.

    But you have snowball’s chance in hell of getting away with it. The rationale here is simple enough.

    Adams knew this would block the families. But he clearly never calculated that the British would ensure the blame would land squarely on him.

    Which brings me to the party’s realpolitik difficulty going forward. Despite the name they are the party with the greatest number of dirty secrets and they’ve vested an awful lot in trusted relationship with the British and Irish governments.

    Perhaps they have presumed too much on that relationship because in the meantime they have hardly pursued a new set of viable peacetime politics to put the conflict at our backs.

    If they had this would not be crisis for them. They’d be safely ensconced in a house of peace building bricks. There are loose hares running all over the shop which will be hard for any central body to control and put back in the same old box.

    They have, as Ringland is fond of saying, squandered an awful lot of good grace. And, like Minster Shatter in the Republic it is not as though they haven’t had plenty of warning, nor is it likely they won’t continue to repeat the same mistakes.

    Rather they’ve sought to punish anyone impertinent enough to talk back. See the Ann Travers and Declan Gormley cases for examples of how they deal with dissent.

    This breach of trust is so broad as to include loyalists and people right in the heart of their own constituency.

    Let’s just say I expect the Police Ombudsman to be very busy over the next year or so.

  • Politico68

    I think u are seeing a connection there that does not exist. You are assuming that whatever has been agreed re Republicans can also be applied to the paras even though it has not been specifically alluded to. The issue is between the British and the families who were not part of the negotiations,therefore they are not restrained by any agreements between the British and those who acted on behalf of loyalist and Republicans.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I do see your point. But do try to get my drift too. If it is okay to let the killers of Kingsmill go, how is it in the public interest to nail the paras?

    As I’ve been at pains to say all through this, that does not make it a done deal. But SF are in an incredibly weak position to argue otherwise. And the less said about the SDLP the better.

    I agree that the families are still free to push it. But there is now a parallel crisis in the politics in which SF has a weak to no hand to play. Protection of ex volunteers is their first priority just now, not the families.

    I’d share Tuesday night’s Spotlight discussion if it was not so chaotic to show you just how quiet and insouciant Alex Maskey was, even though as a politician he’s a better pol than any of them bar Arlene.

  • Newton Emerson

    Politico68
    I fear my tweet does seem glib as posted here by Mick, with no context.
    It was in response to a blizzard of SF tweets, such as that below, which made the OTR-Paras link. The Shinners now seem to have dropped this line of ‘reasoning’ as the impact on victims’ groups become clear.

    Paras got their 'letter' on 1st February 1972— Danny Morrison (@molloy1916) February 28, 2014

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks for adding that in Newt… I thought with the blizzard of stuff I’ve written on the subject this week it would make its own context…

  • Barnshee

    ” The issue is between the British and the families who were not part of the negotiations,therefore they are not restrained by any agreements between the British and those who acted on behalf of loyalist and Republicans.”

    Roll on naming (all) names and putting at least the prospect of civil action into play.

  • Morpheus

    Civil action? Againt who ffs? How hard is it to understand that those who got a letter weren’t even wanted for questioning?

    What is it with this selective fact taking?

  • Barnshee

    ” How hard is it to understand that those who got a letter weren’t even wanted for questioning?”

    Government says we don`t want to question you ..(its too embarrassing for all )

    Victim says I would quite like to see you in court in a ( civil) action where you could be questions

    Names please

  • Mick Fealty

    Morpheus, just look at the numbers? I’m not saying it would be a good or a healthy thing. But the possibilities are endless.