“I’m not a criminal. I was never a criminal…”

No confirmation yet from the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, that he is actually calling for a review into how either the unsolved murders of the Troubles, or the legacy of the Troubles, are to be dealt with. Meanwhile it seems that the much quoted NIO source was actually talking to Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times. In another article in the Sunday Times Clarke also accused the then[?] Sinn Féin Director of Unionist Outreach Martina Anderson, et al, of hyprocisy in calling for the criminal records of former paramilitary prisoners to be removed – “We had a political situation which produced political prisoners”.From the Sunday Times, via the indispensible Newhound

For Anderson, political motivation means that, here and now, IRA actions should not be dwelt on except at republican commemorations when ex-prisoners are congratulated and the dead remembered. At best the political motivation, now that the campaign is over, becomes a springboard for political action of a more conventional type.

“Let us take on this task readily, with determination and with container-loads of energy, following the example of the people down the years who gave their lives in pursuance of this struggle,” Anderson said at the Edentubber commemoration for the four IRA members and civilian whose lives were wasted when a bomb exploded prematurely in Co Louth in 1958.

This sort of thinking may be useful as a psychological device to deal with her violent past, years in jail and the death of her friends.

Otherwise, she might suffer the full mental anguish that would normally be associated with such memories. But as a line of argument it won’t be accepted by anyone who did not support the IRA campaign. She is speaking a different language from most of the population.

Sinn Féin operates a seemingly unconscious double standard in which the wrongdoing of others is to be remembered and probed, but IRA activity, although it caused pain, sits outside the criminal justice system and truth-recovery process. Anderson, now a member of the policing board, speaks of instances of politically motivated collusion between the security forces and paramilitaries as “crimes against humanity”.

Yet IRA actions were never crimes against humanity, because they were inspired by the same sort of political motives she attributes to the police.

The point featured in a recent exchange between Martin McGuinness and Stephen Nolan of the BBC, who has a gift for bluntness.

Nolan asked McGuinness if he had killed anybody. McGuinness hedged and talked about being an IRA leader at a time when people suffered.

“I’m wondering if I am looking at a killer,” Nolan persisted. “You can wonder all you like,” replied McGuinness.

Asked if, now that he supported law and order, McGuinness would like people to report anything he had done wrong, he replied: “I’m not a criminal. I was never a criminal . . . I’m not asking or advocating that republicans and nationalists should give information on the IRA over the IRA campaign. I can’t do that.”

This attempt to close the book on the IRA campaign because of its political character, while calling for public inquiries into other acts of violence that sprang from the political conflict, won’t wash.

It leaves Sinn Féin looking like hypocrites, having no answers to the hard questions.