As Gonzo notes the SDLP has launched an offensive on the governments and Sinn Fein on the proposed legislation in front the Westminster parliament on how the On the Runs might be dealt with. But Brian Feeney reckons the principle of the argument was already conceded when the party signed up to the Belfast Agreement. And by the DUP when it was ‘ready’ to sign up to a comprehensive agreement last December.
The truth of the matter is that the word principle is the last one that can be used about a process which has to be entirely unprincipled. The fact is that this British government came into power in 1997 with the clear intention of getting the prisoners out because that is an essential feature of any conflict resolution here. Releasing them was an acknowledgement that what passed for law and the judicial process was a tool of the British administration here and that the only principles which applied were those enunciated by Brigadier Kitson in his 1971 book Low Intensity Operations. Kitson recommended that the law should be used as a weapon of the state to counter subversion and insurgency and so it was.