“We are consulting anyway..”

Earlier Turgon posted some thoughts and questions about the Eames/Bradley chaired Consultative Group on the Past. And, interestingly, David Adams covered similar concerns in the Irish Times today. He begins by picking up on those “anonymous sources close to that group”. From the Irish Times [subs req]

Non-attributable kite-flying and plausibly deniable leaking as a means of swaying or inuring public opinion is usually the grubby preserve of governments and political parties; it is certainly not what you expect from a body trying to encourage more openness (and honesty) in others.

And he goes on to conclude

I hold both Lord Eames and Denis Bradley in high regard, and have no desire to be unduly harsh about the options reportedly under consideration by the CGP. Suffice to say that the idea of a British government formally declaring that it was engaged in a war in Northern Ireland, and thereby elevating paramilitary groups to an equivalent level with state security organisations, turns morality on its head.

The massive legal implications of such a move are made clear by even a cursory glance at the Hague and Geneva conventions regarding conduct of war and war crimes, especially where the deliberate targeting, torturing, kidnapping and disappearing of civilians is concerned.

To think that a retrospective declaration of war in tandem with a general amnesty might result in lawbreakers coming forward to admit guilt is naive in the extreme. The overriding truth is that it is impossible, at least at this early juncture, for people in Northern Ireland to agree about recent history.

In order to construct a generally agreed, widely palatable version of the past, the truth must be contorted and cherry-picked – which is in direct contradiction to the very notion of truth recovery, and would probably do more harm than good. Lord Eames and Denis Bradley are engaged in an impossible task.

Also in the Irish Times, Denis Bradley eschews the leaks by anonymous sources and is quoted directly from the last public meeting of the Consultative Group suggesting that they might come to just such a conclusion. [subs again]

Addressing the last in a series of public meetings, the group’s co-chairman Denis Bradley said they could reluctantly conclude that the community is not yet ready to move on. “That is as big a possibility at this point than any other,” he said.

“There have been many versions of truth told to us, some of them parallel, some of them utterly contradictory. I’m not sure it’s our job to rule on the truth.

“But I think we might be able to find some truth common to us all.”

Mr Bradley told the public meeting in Omagh, Co Tyrone that it was possible that the issue of the Troubles legacy was being addressed “too soon”.

“We are consulting anyway. When you tackle it now you engage the people with greatest hurt.”

Except that it might not be that it is “the community” who are not ready to move on, but rather that they are not ready to move in the manner suggested by those anonymous sources last week.

And further, any movement is being severely restricted by the reluctance of those with vested interests to tell the truth to their own tribes.

The Consultative Group, however, would do well to note that delay carries its own risks.

As I’ve pointed out previously, The Cure at Troy just doesn’t get quoted as often as it used to..

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