The strong hold of Loyalist and Republican “Communicrats”?

Something that shouldn’t be missed is Gerry Moriarty’s interview with Father Denis Faul (subs only). As ever, he is his own man. He doesn’t reckon a Truth and Reconciliation process will work, but believes there has to be some kind of practical quid pro quo to let former paramilitaries get back into normal life. But, he argues, there must be an absolute right for those exiled by paramilitaries to return if they so wish. He coins a term which may just stick in the wider public discourse:

During the interview, our conversation is interrupted by a couple calling to the parochial house, having driven from the South to seek assistance from the priest. Eight years ago the husband was forced out of a Northern town by the IRA, and even though he was told twice he could safely return home when he did so the local IRA militia sent him and his family packing again – little IRA command dictating to big IRA command.

Under no circumstances, says the man – and he means no circumstances – will he allow further details of his plight to be published. “I was warned by them the two worst things I could do was go to the media or the police. I’m sorry, it just wouldn’t be worth it.”

“It’s the law of omerta,” says Mgr Faul. “You can’t speak, you can’t go to the police, you can’t go to the courts, you can’t go to the press. It’s barbarous. There is a law, but it’s the law of force. There is an order, but it’s the order of fear.” Mgr Faul says there are 5,000 people “banished” from Northern Ireland by republican and loyalist paramilitaries. Recently Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that the IRA was no threat to anyone, including those expelled from the North, but that ultimately their return was a matter for the communities.

“But that’s not good enough,” says Mgr Faul, who believes that Adams has the power to facilitate the safe return of those exiled from nationalist areas. “This is a human rights issue. These people were forced out by the ‘controlocrat’ criminals of the IRA, UDA and UVF and must be allowed return home. The community has no right to interfere. Either there is law or no law. That is the basis of a civilised society.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty