“We are at a difficult and sensitive period..”

An Irish Times report picks up on comments by Maurice Hayes in the Seanad, asking for postponement of a debate on the Oireachtas committee report on the bombing of a Dundalk pub in the 1970s, which go some way towards revealing how The Process™ works[subs req] [or doesn’t – Ed].From the Irish Times[subs req]

This was an issue that would not go away or be forgotten. Dr Hayes said he respected Mr Walsh’s concern arising from the Kay’s Tavern bombing. However, he wondered if this was the right time to deal with that issue.

“There is an enormous problem with regard to how we deal with memory and the past in a deeply fractured society after a period in which awful things were done on both sides. It might cause further difficulty if we got ourselves into a position of demanding that every stone be turned over on one side and not on the other. If the Senator was a Protestant farmer in south Armagh, he would also think that terrorism was a matter of international terrorism, coming across the Border aimed at him.”

Dr Hayes said that one thing that concerned him was that the report did not put the bombing into context, “as if the events came out of the blue. We need to include that context.

“There is also a weakness in the report. It appears to me that the views of lobby groups were established and accepted as if evidence or gospel fact.

“We are at a difficult and sensitive period in the North as parties are edging closer. If one party thought we in this House were ganging up to throw stones at one side and closing our eyes to what was going on on the other side, it could only do damage. I appeal to the House to postpone that debate and perhaps to include it in a wider debate about how we deal with memory and the sins of the past.”

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  • Yokel

    Stupid Maurice..there was one side that did bad things…doesn’t he know that?

  • Nevin
  • dpef

    Why link to Martin Mansergh when the story is about a northern born politician that has worked at the most senior level for the British Government and with the RUC?


    I think Mr Hayes’ opinion can be summed up as “Whatabout”.

  • Pete Baker


    Corrected link.

  • John East Belfast


    “I think Mr Hayes’ opinion can be summed up as “Whatabout”.”

    Sometimes “Whatabout” is essential when trying to put the issue in context and gain an understanding.

    eg many a terrorist spent many a years in prison because of a wrong done to him – it does not justify it but it helps you understand the situation and avoid being intellectually lazy about it.

    Indeed putting matters in context helped bring about the Belfast Agreement where those of us who thought about things discovered many issues were not Black and White.

    Some of us want to draw a line under everything and move on – but if we start picking at certain things then we will have to pull everything apart – including Catholic Church (Claudy bombings), Garda collaboration with PIRA and not to mention the fact that PIRA attacks for a very long time were not even considered as extraditable crimes from the ROI – basically the British and NI unionists viewed the ROI as a safe haven for terrorists.

    However few of us have the energy, will or time to spend the rest of our lives pouring over such matters now

    I think Hayes is spot on.

    Is there something in Irish Republican and Nationalist psyche that is only happy when it is proving to all who care to listen that they are a very wronged people by the British and unionists ?

    Will you forever dry your eyes and give us all a break ?

  • Secur O’Crat

    Maurice Hayes has done well for himself over the years. Was he more loyal to the Crown or the half crown? Of course, he was a backroom boy for Down GAA in the long off days. Still, he must have beeen Stormont’s favourite Crown Catholic for al ong time. ASnd htne he had all those lovely Indo op eds. Nice work if you can get it.

  • Is Hayes saying that anytime is not the right time or that THIS time is not the right time because of the sensitive nature of negotiations?

    In my opinion the current negotiations are the continuation of the conflict – and this is obvious from the demeanor of the various parties and their disposition to one another.

    What will be settled here is not the peace but under what terms the war will be continued.

    Senator Hayes speaks as if he’s above all of this but he was head of the NI Civil Service during the period in question. If he genuinely wants to be objective he should come forward and say what he knows – and also reveal what he didn’t know but suspected was happening and being witheld from him because of his Catholic background. He’s a party to this and his latest intervention is unfortunate and soils his reputation in my eyes. Might he be afraid of it being brought to light that Catholics were involved in the military campaign against their fellow Catholics, thus giving the game away that this always a war between two opposing nations as opposed to much touted ‘sectarian conflict’?

  • john

    still, as time goes on the troubles look less like a battle between good and evil and more and more like a battle between evil and a bit less evil

  • Secur O’Crat

    Oilibhear and John: Good posts both. And Herr Hayes, like all other (half) Crown Catholics who took the Saxon shilling, was not an innocent abroad. Bernie Devlin is right; the good guys lost. And many of them languish in dreary prison cells today while those who never went short prattle on about the dead having no rights.

  • BeardyBoy

    Senator Hayes maybe fears that some people he recognises may get exposed – bet he sees one of them in the morning when he shaves – wonder if he can tell us when would be a good time?