The Eames-Bradley consultation group on the past was instituted with quite high hopes at least from its leaders. The body was attacked by Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy as soon as it had been set up as the government would have the final say on its recommendations. The DUP’s Gregory Campbell seemed worried regarding whom the group would be most interested in (same link), whilst the Alliance party welcomed it.Now with the suggestions that the group was advocating that the government describe the troubles as a war and the comments regarding the potential effects of the group’s findings on the unionist community, let alone an amnesty (already blogged here by Pete) most of the anxiety seems to have come from the unionist community. As Mick noted on Tuesday Dean Godson has criticised the group’s approach. Alex Kane, is his traditionally elegant fashion, has also expressed grave concerns. All this seems to have resulted in some rowing back by Eames and Bradley. However, the row about which side of the river Foyle to hold meetings demonstrates that the anger is not purely one sided.
Although Willie Frazer’s suggestion that the group’s findings could lead to violence may well be hyperbole, the question must be asked whether this group’s activities and final report will be a form of catharsis for our society or simply stoke anger and bitterness. If the latter; should Eames, Bradley and the others consider whether or not their group (though by no fault of their own necessarily) is making the situation worse. If they do come to such a decision should they at least temporarily, maybe be indefinitely stop their activities? It is possible then that we might be able to close this particular Pandora’s box, at least temporarily? That might, however, require more lateral thinking about the true nature of their task than either Eames or Bradley is capable of.