“if our new democratic institutions aren’t strong enough to withstand the truth..”

Brian Rowan, writing in the Sunday Life, has a suggestion for the Eames/Bradley consultation group should they want to “take the bull by the horns” – which they should. Interesting to note that the Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, presumably with his party political hat on, had distanced both himself and the First Minister, the DUP’s Ian Paisley, from what he described as Peter Hain’s “unilateral decision” by denying that either of them had been consulted before the announcement was made. And while we’re on this topic there was an important point made in an article, on one recent controversial decision, by Susan McKay in the Irish Times recently [subs req].

Anyway, how can it possibly be right to ignore evidence of such corruption, and to refuse to learn the real history of the Troubles? The British will look bad, Sinn Féin has dirty hidden history and so has the DUP. But if our new democratic institutions aren’t strong enough to withstand the truth, they aren’t strong enough.

Brian Rowan’s suggestion in the Sunday Life

The talk before the consultative group was announced was that there would be “a big conversation” and a “blank sheet” – no pre-determined outcomes.

In that, there is room to be bold.

As part of what they are doing, the Eames/Bradley group should invite the IRA army council, the UVF and Red Hand Commando brigade staff and the UDA inner council to send representatives to a specially-convened conference.

Those who can speak for the police, the Army and the security services should also be there, as well as representatives of the relevant governments and political parties. The conference should take as long as it needs to establish what the parties to the conflict are prepared to contribute in answering and explaining that past.

That’s the bull by the horns.


It has to be about all sides – all of them answering and explaining, however difficult, however awkward.

It is, of course, entirely possible that if such a conference were to be called, that there would be those who would stay away. Maybe more would stay away than would attend.

That in itself would tell us something about who is prepared to step out of those shadows and who wants to continue to hide in them.

There may, however, be another flaw in the suggestion. In that the groups he’s pointing to as being necessary participants in that conference include those responsible for the amnesiacs deal – and those who would have a vested interest in continuing to tip-toe round the past.

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