“This is the reality of the situation..”

Sinn Féin refused to attend the announcement of an interim report by the Consultative Group on the Past in Belfast today – the full report is expected in the summer. The BBC report picks up on Co-Chairman Lord Eames’ comments, “We cannot ignore that, in fact, the state sometimes acted illegally. If we are to move out of the past in a healthy way then the state itself needs to acknowledge its full and complex role in the last 40 years.” and Co-Chairman Denis Bradley’s, “The scale of the use of informers throughout the conflict corroded the fabric of our communities and the constant pressure now exerted for information about informers to be revealed only serves to further undermine the well being of communities to a degree that could be poisonous. Would the republican community like to have to tell an ageing mother that her martyred son was actually an informer? That is what full disclosure could mean.” Of more concern might be those who are still alive.. We already know what the Police Ombudsman thinks about “drawing a line under the past..” And it’s been suggested that Sinn Féin and the DUP intend to rely on their four Victims Commissioners to deal with those poisonous foundations. Adds Full text of the speech here.
And from the Consultative Group’s press release

Denis Bradley said, “Many people have put their faith in the Criminal Justice system delivering for them. Even while knowing people would only serve a maximum of two years under the early release scheme, it was important for them that justice was seen to be done. We sympathize with this desire for justice.

“However it is difficult for us not to listen to those experts who are telling us that the reality is that as each day passes securing justice becomes less and less likely. In many historic cases witnesses have died, exhibits are no longer credible or have disintegrated over time. This is the reality of the situation.”

And also

In his closing remarks Denis Bradley said, “As a group we are committed to addressing the legacy of the past in a way that will promote a greater goal of reconciliation within and between our people. We recognise that reconciliation remains an elusive and contested concept.

“For some of us this will mean being reconciled to the fact that our future is together, that we do share the land and its resources and a common sense of belonging to this place.

“For all of us it will mean bringing a new measure of common purpose reflected in greater cohesion, sharing and integration in our communities. We have no choice. There is no better future without a shared future; there is no shared future without reconciliation.”

Time then to undermine those old certainties..

Adds The full text of the speech addresses a wide range of groups and organisations but this, in particular, stood out.

In all our consultations it is unclear if Republicans truly appreciate the depth of hurt that exists in the Unionist community.

Republicans claimed they were targeting State forces in the guise of RUC/UDR members. Unionist communities, particularly in rural border areas, saw such tactics as deliberately killing fathers and eldest, or only, sons to drive Protestants from their homes and land. We have heard many stories from these communities who describe their experiences in this way – as at best raw sectarianism and at worst ethnic cleansing.

They believe Republicans have not come to fully understand the hurt that still exists and they need to acknowledge and appreciate the damage they did to the prospect of reconciliation between our two communities.

Indeed if the aim of the Republican struggle was to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, the brutal logic of their violence undermined this aim. The reality of the depth of division that has been caused between neighbours – who now need to share the future, needs to be acknowledged. Regardless of the uniform, the cause, countrymen killed fellow countrymen. While we realize Republicans have embarked on a process to address some of these issues we believe more needs to be done – apologizing to non-combatants just isn’t good enough.

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  • TAFKABO

    From the Sinn Fein link above.

    “Nationalists and Republicans will not accept the British government attempting to portray themselves as innocent bystanders in this conflict. The British government directly and indirectly through their surrogate murder gangs were active participants in the conflict and any process of truth recovery must reflect that reality.

    Know what?

    This time the shinners are right.

  • “We cannot ignore that, in fact, the state sometimes acted illegally.”

    Does Eames mean just the agents of one state or is he open to the notion that the agents of more than one state were embroiled in actions that led, directly and indirectly, to serious injury, death and destruction?

  • Pete, you might like to link to FULL TEXT OF KEY NOTE ADDRESS

  • LURIG

    Until we have clarity and some insight on Britain’s full role in the conflict Victims groups and Commissions unfortunately are wasting their time. How can they get at the truth if the British government covers it up and blocks it at every turn. Unionists need to take off the sectarian Orange blinkers, open their eyes and realise that successive British administrations were up to the oxters in murder and violence and were NOT the honest broker they keep telling us. This includes IRA victims as well as Loyalist because, as we have seen, Britain’s security services had compromised the IRA & Sinn Fein and a lot of Republican operations were obviously known to the spooks before they happened. We KNOW that they TOTALLY controlled, armed and financed Loyalist groups fully directing their campaign. What role did they play with the IRA? Whitehall obviously has a lot to hide with the introduction of the Inquiries Bill and the binning of the Cory, Stalker and Stevens reports. The Rosemary Nelson inquiry is also being hindered while the Bloody Sunday Inquiry will probably absolve Britain too. Any inquiry set up Britain is a waste of time as it is Britain that sets the terms, rules and restrictions. How stupid do they think we all are here or is this just another example of their TOTAL contempt for the ‘unruly Irish’? It is now accepted that there was some form of ‘unspoken’ official state assassination policy within British political and security ranks. It wasn’t that long ago that the Spanish government of Felipe Gonzalez fell and ministers were prosecuted because of their role in setting up State murder squads that murdered Basque Separatists. I have just heard the Unionist response on Talkback and it is pathetic but predictable. They more or less absolved the British State from any wrongdoing so if Unionist citizens are looking for the truth of why their loved ones died they won’t get any help from their own politicians.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Nevin.

    Didn’t see that when I posted the original.

  • Steve

    Typical whitewash of the english governments involvement in murder and mayhem and only the pain causded the unionist community seems to really matter.

    Results as predicted I guess

  • Lorraine

    for the “mistrust” which still permeates unionist communities, read “paranoia” … everybody was out to get the paragons of democratic virtue; and republicans must apologise for rebelling against the unionmist utopia one-party fascist state which enslaved and oppressed catholics: the protestant state for a protestant people! what a load os shit, whitewash a-la widgery. big bad republicans, tut tut.

  • joeCanuck

    only the pain causded the unionist community seems to really matter.

    Can’t believe you read the whole address by Lord Eames, Steve.

  • heck

    “We cannot ignore that, in fact, the state sometimes acted illegally.”

    “We cannot ignore that, in fact, the world really is flat.”

    nothing like stating the bloody obvious.

  • ulsterfan

    Perhaps Republicans can show deluded unionists how to get to the truth when Adams and McGuinness tell us about their involvement in the struggle and open up the files of SF/IRA.

  • joeCanuck

    Anybody got a clue as to when, on the whole, we stopped hating the Germans and the Japanese for the misdeeds of their leaders?

  • Steve

    Ulsterfan

    Do you honestly believe that the IRA keeps files and paperwork?

  • Steve

    My arse

    Then lets get digging and see exactly what war the english prosecuted against its own citizens

  • Damian O’Loan

    Interesting address. I wouldn’t really say your post does it justice.

    Firstly, they’ve clearly decided to attempt a narrative of the modern Troubles. Given their terms of reference:

    “To consult across the community on how Northern Ireland society can best approach the legacy of the events of the past 40 years; and to make recommendations, as appropriate, on any steps that might be taken to support Northern Ireland society in building a shared future that is not overshadowed by the events of the past.”

    they might just have recommended this narrative be agreed by the parties at Stormont. A brave step then, but perhaps a risky one.

    On the content, a few things stand out:

    “An open and democratic criminal justice system is vital to a civilized society but the judicial process is a crude instrument to use when dealing with a conflict such as we have experienced. It often doesn’t deliver what people seek or bring about the healing that they long for.

    We understand how the piecemeal approach to the past has emerged and that those who crave the truth will explore any available avenue to get it. However there are other ways of seeking truth that do not include long drawn out judicial processes. What we need is our solution to our problem. This will form an important part of our report and recommendations.”

    The right to a fair trial is internationally recognised and “our solution” would be foolish and criminal to deny this. The right to truth for families of various atrocities isn’t suitable for this kind of amateurish, experimental language. This is extremely concerning.

    “[we] will liaise closely with the Commissioners for Victims and Survivors as they develop their work programme, to ensure these welfare needs are met”

    They clearly aren’t going away.

    “in fact, the State sometimes acted illegally”

    This is perhaps the most important sentence. An eventual motion in Stormont could require the Unionist parties in particular to endorse this as part of a wider settlement, and that would mean an arm of British government recognising the state’s illegal acts in Parliament. Hardly a whitewash. Especially if SF eventually passed a motion at Westminster.

    If SF had been expecting that, I’m almost surprised they didn’t go for that alone. But using Victims’ groups to hide your shame or embarrassment is a little pathetic I think.

    All in all, the speech and narrative were cautiously even-handed, respectively addressing the two sides of the conflict. While completely in line with the approach of consociationalism, not particularly visionary. I think the approach is to say little enough to allow agreement possible. I’d say more openness and honesty, balanced with more concessions, would be better.

    Still too early to speculate on the eventual content, but an interesting, by turns insightful and disappointing, discourse.

  • ulsterfan

    steve
    I am surprised you consider all Irishmen to be citizens of the English/British State.
    Did Republicans not consider themselves to be apart( Sinn Fein and all that nonsense)
    If they did not give allegiance to that State how could the Brits declare war on its own citizens?

  • The Consultative Group on the Past has been established as an independent group to seek views across the community in Northern Ireland on the best way deal with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland.

    They met with victims and survivors from here and from the South yet, apparently, had a deaf ear for those from the East. I voted for the Agreement partly because it embraced all of the relationships that are important to us. This Hiberno-centric approach adopted by the Consultative Group is IMO unfortunate as well as being anti-Agreement.

  • Turgon

    The full text of the address is a well written and careful attempt at an even handed analysis of what I suspect people think and probably sets out well what people I know who were victims in the unionist community would think. I suspect it is probably also a fair attempt at explaining what republicans think.

    In that: in its attempts to be all things to all men and indeed in the responses so far to it I would suggest lie proof of the folly of this whole enterprise.

    Whilst unionists will accept that there was collusion, as the speech indicates we feel it was utterly unacceptable and believe it was limited. We also describe the IRA campaign as utterly and nakedly sectarian. Both of those positions are going to be directly gainsayed by republicans. As such there is very little chance that this report will promote reconciliation. Whilst I doubt it will lead to blood on the streets as I believe Willie Fraser predicted, I strongly suspect it will simply stoke bitterness.

    The revelations of informers etc. will be just the same and I have no desire to have some sort of schadenfreud of seeing elderly republicans told their sons were informers.

    I have suggested this before but I will again say that if Eames and Bradley really listened to what was said they could come to a radically different conclusion. That is that this process is not going to help but is indeed going to hinder reconciliation here and that the greatest contribution they could make would be to bury this report in the depths of the ocean where it would never bee seen again and then Eames, Bradley and the others might agree not to talk about it.

    Such a conclusion would, however, require more insight and lateral thinking that I deem these people possess.

    I am left wondering whether or not they can be so naive (indeed stupid) as to think their report will help. Unless of course the are simply so fond of the limelight and so caught up in the supposed importance of their task and their own vital importance to Northern Ireland that they are now taking part in what is becoming a vanity project for them.

    Either way from whatever (probably good) motives they operate, I have little doubt they will do harm. I also no confidence that they have the true wisdom not to proceed with their folly.

  • TAFKABO

    Turgon.

    Your position is untennable. The facts are that it has already been made public knowledge that collusion was not limited as you are determined to insist, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

    Unionists are in for a shock when the depth of links between the security forces and paramilitaries – including the IRA – is eventually revealed.

    Sources close to the body looking at how to deal with the past say they’ve been taken aback by information they’ve come across

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3318649.ece

    With the above information, including link to the newspaper it was published in, how can you continue to allow yourself to believe a clear untruth?

  • Turgon

    FAFKABO,

    You prove my substantive point, which is indeed exactly why I put my comment about collusion in there. You are focused on security forces collusion but seem to have little cognisance of the fact that unionists perceive the IRA campaign as utterly sectarian and indeed frequently as ethnic cleansing.

    I am sure you are as utterly certain that there was massive collusion as I am certain the IRA was utterly sectarian and involved in ethnic cleansing.

    You help prove my point that if this body seeks to bring about reconciliation it will, if it publishes its report do precisely the opposite. As such if its authors had true wisdom they would not publish it for many years if ever.

    Thank you for your help even if it was unintentional.

  • Paul

    as I am certain the IRA was utterly sectarian and involved in ethnic cleansing.

    Turgon, seriously wise up.

  • Turgon

    Paul,
    It seems thanks are due to you as well. Eames Bradley said that unionists regard the IRA campaign as sectarian and at times ethnic cleansing. You seem to utterly reject this position.

    Indeed reconciliation does not seem to be likely to be helped by this group. It seems to provoke exaclty the opposite.

  • graduate

    No real surprises with the comments posted here today. Turgon, I’m a unionist and I know there was collusion. I would also be surprised if the IRA didn’t know just how riddled it was with informers. But, do you know something? Not one of you lot has been big enough to admit thaty the last 40 years was a nasty, squalid little civil war and no one’s hands are really clean, not the Brits, not the unioist parties, not the naitonalists, not the republicans, NO ONE’S! Geddit? If oyu all want to be taken seriously then the first thing you need to do is say that we were all involved in turning this place into a basket case and all of us have a responsibility to sort it out. Let our children and grandchildren argue over the historical rights and wrongs when we’re all dust. The victims should get due support but we don’t need dozens of victims organisations to do it. I gave a Eames a hard time when he came to my part of the world and I htink the Commissionis right to say if one side has to ‘fess up and air it’s dirty linen then all sides have to. Get on with fixing this place, not constantly trying to drag us down. As for the TUV- some of your members are fully paid up fascists and gangsters- your no better thna the rest of us so get off the high moral ground- it ain’t yours

  • Pete Baker

    Damian

    “I wouldn’t really say your post does it justice.”

    Everyone’s a critic. My post was noting the announcement of the interim report and the reaction – with my initial thoughts on that. When the actual address was available it was added and is linked for all to read.

    “They clearly aren’t going away.”

    When the Consultative Group produce their final report in the summer they will depend on an extension of their remit not to go away.

    Turgon

    It’s an interim report.

    The group have merely mapped out the different stories being told and noted where they think there are difficiencies in those stories – such as with the story told by ‘Republicans’ that I noted above.

    They are also tasked with finding a way through those, often competing, stories.

    To damn them, as you do, before they have produced any recommendations at all is to future ill-advisedly.

    Those poisonous foundations are there. Ignoring them is to no-one’s benefit – as some of the links in the original post demonstrate.

  • TAFKABO

    Turgon.

    The subject of this thread is state involvement in murder, not the IRA’s campaign.
    In case you didn’t know it, I am also a unioist who believes that the IRA were enagaged in a sectarian campiagn, but that’s not the issue being discussed here.
    The state that both you and I want to be alligned with has been involved in the murder of our fellow countrymen and our neighbours.
    What say you?

  • doctor

    Pete
    It doesn’t happen often but I completely agree with you here. Right now people are criticizing a report that is still a few months from being published based on their interpretations of a few media statements.

    And I also feel that even learning some half-truths are better than living with downright lies or ignorance. I see any truth-based process as being not just a finger-pointing exercise about what did happen but an opportunity to determine what didn’t happen. Right now anybody can go to the media and make all sorts of allegations and rumour-mongering about anybody or anything, which end up being treated as gospel truth.

  • Turgon

    Pete Baker,
    I agree it is an interim report and I believe that it was as even handed as it could be. However, that is my very point. No matter how good the report is it will stir bitterness and anger, open old wounds: use whatever clichés one wants.

    As such (and I think the responses so far bear me out) the best thing for Eames Bradley to do would be to bin the whole thing and give up or at least not publish it for many, many years.

    I do not think they will do that and I hope the reason they will not is that they are too foolish and myopic to see what a bad idea their commission is. Alternatively (and they are meant to be intelligent people) they are too fond of the limelight to admit that their project is disastrously flawed and although they did not set it up, the best thing they could do would be to stop it.

    graduate,
    Thank you for the rant. As you are a graduate (and I do not doubt much better qualified than I am) maybe you can see what I am trying to say re the Eames Bradley.

    Incidentally in terms of collective responsibility: no I do not get it. I do not get that I am responsible for killing people or for supporting killing people. I do not get that the the majority of nationalists / Roman Catholics have anything at all to apologise for either. Their’s is a legitimate aspiration for a united Ireland. Provided they did not support killing people to get it they have absolutely nothing to apologise for.

    You may wish to indulge in mental self flagellation for the problems of Northern Ireland and proceed with your own somewhat perverse view that we were all to blame. I tend to believe in personal responsibility. Hence, unless you did something immoral or evil I do not hold you responsible. If however, it gives you some sort of perverse feeling of moral superiority to accrue guilt to yourself please proceed. Ironically by placing a mental hair shirt on yourself it is you who ascend the moral high horse; one I have no wish to be on. The only moral place I presume to inhabit is the same one as all others who opposed violence and murder: somewhere a little above the gutter. Except of course for my personal religious belief on utter Depravity but that is a quite different argument.

  • Dave

    “The revelations of informers etc. will be just the same and I have no desire to have some sort of schadenfreud of seeing elderly republicans told their sons were informers.” – Turgon

    Since when did the potential to cause anguish to the parents of an accused person take precedence over the right to justice for the person who was allegedly wronged by the accused person? That’s exactly the same as saying that an outstanding rape case should not be prosecuted because a pair of doting parents will be distressed to discover that their proud son is a rapist. When did the distress caused to kith and kin of an offender become a valid expedient to deny justice to the victim or to ignore the ongoing distress to the kith and kin of the victim?

    This is pure propaganda that is presented as an Irish solution to an Irish problem (meaning one that exists independently of principle, being an exceptional pragmatic expediency) or, as The Two Stooges paraphrased it, “our solution to our problem.”

    It’s clear that the ‘peace process’ is to take priority over all other considerations, including ones that are fundamental to human decency such as truth and justice. Yet that thoroughly rotten little society is being engineered by the British government for your benefit.

  • Turgon

    TAFKABO,
    Sorry posts crossed. My internet connection was playing up.

    I thought this blog was about Eames Bradley in total not collusion. What I was pointing out was that the narratives (to use that over used word) are completely conflicting and indeed frequently contradictory.

    As such Eames Bradley will always say some things acceptable to one side but utterly unacceptable to the other. On other things it will be vice versa. Hence, I maintain that the process is going to increase division and now is not the right time for it and I am dubious if there will be a right time in the foreseeable future.

    My central complaint is that Eames Bradley are too stupid to see this. Or just possibly too self important and arrogant to care.

  • Pete Baker

    TAFKABO

    “The subject of this thread is state involvement in murder, not the IRA’s campaign.”

    No, it’s not. As I’ve already said.

    “My post was noting the announcement of the interim report and the reaction – with my initial thoughts on that. When the actual address was available it was added and is linked for all to read.”

    doctor

    Indeed.

    Turgon

    You clearly haven’t read the links I provided, nor thought on the contents of those posts, beyond your belief that those involved in the Consultative Group are “too fond of the limelight to admit that their project is disastrously flawed”.

    That is a conclusion that you have repeatedly stated without evidence or argument in the face of examples to the contrary.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    I keep saying that their fondness for the limelight is a possible explanation. As each of my posts so far has said, should you read them carefully, it may also be, indeed I hope is due to their myopia and foolishness. I tend not to put down to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

  • Pete Baker

    Turgon

    “My central complaint is that Eames Bradley are too stupid to see this.”

    You’ve been playing the man/men.

    I suggest you choose a different approach to those you disagree with.

  • Turgon

    Fine,
    I suggest they have completely failed to see that their approach and indeed the whole project is utterly flawed, will stoke division and impede reconciliation: whatever that word is meant to mean.

  • Pete Baker

    Rational argument is preferable, Turgon.

    Above and beyond playing the man, that is.

    And you still haven’t produced any rational argument to support your claim that “they have completely failed to see that their approach and indeed the whole project is utterly flawed.”

    Whilst the links in the original post suggest otherwise [in terms of the whole project].

  • Turgon

    Indeed the problem is that this is not a subject which all the victims approach rationally.

    I am going to bed and do not have the time or inclination to get the links but very many of the press reports of this group’s meetings included reports of extremely divided and divisive meetings. The one in Londonderry which from memory you blogged on being a case in point. Even the group’s own website alluded to meetings where widely and sharply differing views were put forward.

    The problem Pete is that for many people this is not a rational argument. It is about the deaths of loved ones, it is about horrific injuries, hideous memories (and that on all sides). Many do not even accept the current concept of reconciliation. Some do I have no doubt but some do not. Many I know have a religious understanding of such things and it is not one which lends itself to reconciliation without repentance.

    My point all along is that this is a flawed project, utterly flawed in its inception and no matter how well performed by Eames and Bradley it is so flawed that it will increase division. I remain amazed that they do not see this.

  • Pete Baker

    Turgon

    “Indeed the problem is that this is not a subject which all the victims approach rationally.”

    Which why we must approach, and argue, the topic rationally.

    “My point all along is that this is a flawed project, utterly flawed in its inception and no matter how well performed by Eames and Bradley it is so flawed that it will increase division.”

    And there you go again.

    Rational argument, first and foremost, and play the ball.

  • Dave

    Turgon, reconciliation is used by Eames and Bradley as though they were marriage counsellors – the process by which separated spouses are encouraged to resume their relationship and cohabitation. If you want to see nationalists and unionists as man and wife, then it makes sense to yield to the propaganda which says that the wife should not make legal action against the husband for burning the house down and murdering one of the kids because that approach encourages her to focus on the negative and not on the positive aspects of their relationship which are to serve as the basis for the renewed matrimonial vows. She should forgive and forget, suppressing any troublesome qualms she may have about past infidelities or whether or not it is right to mention to the authorities that one of her children is missing. If, however, you want truth and justice, then you have to accept that reconciliation that is built on a process of psychological repression that is facilitated by state censorship of information and engineering will not be possible. However, reconciliation that emerges from full disclosure – the only lasting kind – will be possible, and that is much more preferable. The reality is that there is no desire for truth and justice if that compromises the carefully engineered political status quo. Eames and Bradley have a political agenda of supporting the current process, much like the IMC have. If the people wanted truth and justice. then they wouldn’t have elected Sinn Fein and the DUP as the leaders of the devolved Executive (as was engineered by the British government), would they? Didn’t they see the blatant conflict of interest if electing those who were most responsible for creating victims to positions where they would be required to secure justice for the victims? Of course they saw it, but they simply don’t care. Everybody knows that, and that is the real politics that are being applied here.

  • Steve

    Dave

    It is interesting that you see republicanism as masculine and unionism as feminine, is it because you see republicans as more physically dominant?

  • Dave

    Steve, it’s more a case that the abused party in a violent relationship shouldn’t be encouraged by the aforementioned marriage counsellors to reconcile with the abuser on the basis of accepting glib reassurances from the abuser to the effect of “I’m sorry. I promise never to hit you again.” 😉

    While I have no problem with a bunch of fascist gangsters like Sinn Fein/IRA making a declaration of non-violence if that is what the Eames & Bradley suggest, the citizens could not make that declaration without declaring that the state, and not the people, is the supreme authority.

    Clearly, the people must reserve the right to overthrow an oppressive regime by violent means where no other means are available. Ireland is a democratic republic, so the power is invested in the people rather than the state. Northern nationalists cannot make any declaration that reverses that balance of power if they want to cling, even nominally, to the one of the core values of a democratic republic.

    Obviously, imperial governments, such as the British government, adore declarations where the state is held to be the supreme authority and the people are subject to that authority at all times and under all circumstances – hence the British government, via their two stooges, would like to secure a commitment that violence should never be used for political ends (i.e. against the state), because such a declaration would amount to an acceptance by the citizens of the primacy of state control.

  • Turgon

    Pete Baker,
    Again you ignore the emotive nature of the subject. You state that we need to approach the subject rationally yet that is your version of rationality. This process was set up for the victims and many of them are on record as saying they are not happy about it: just look at what Eames Bradley and indeed their web site comments say. Or indeed the Londonderry meeting on which I believe you blogged.

    It may very well seem irrational to them that here “the reality is” that murderers will go unprosecuted.

    You have also failed to answer my point about the meetings causing rows, argument and division. You know those meetings involving victims, the people the process was supposed to help.

    Dave 12.36am puts it very well: this process is intensely political and looks very likely to have been designed to achieve an agenda. An agenda which the government want. An agenda of drawing a line under the past. A concept utterly flawed in its inception and outworking. After all such conflicts people remember and are very often angry, very angry, very reasonably angry: hence appealing to rationality is to miss the point completely.

    By already saying that it will be practically impossible to have people brought to justice that is just going to distress relatives and increase anger. The relatives probably know this full well but to bring all these things back up again, announce that justice (on all sides) will not be served and expect this to produce reconciliation is an utterly flawed idea. Flawed that is unless one is slavishly following a specific agenda in which one does not really care about the victims but instead only cares about doing was is deemed to be politically necessary in order to “move forward” with the process and draw an artificial government sanctioned line under the past.

    If it is to draw that line it may well please the governments (though there will be a bit of governmental pain about collusion) but will do nothing for victims, they very people the process was supposedly set up to help. That Eames Bradley after meeting so many people (so may of whom were victims) fail to appreciate the flawed and indeed negative nature of their project brings me back to saying they are either foolish or following an agenda set out for them by others and one designed to help the “process” and not the victims.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    Sorry to double post but you also fail to address the fact that quite a number of victims will reject the whole concept of reconciliation without repentance. Again this is a further fatal flaw in the system. One which Eames should know and understand. It may seem irrational to you but to some of the victims and indeed some in wider society that is a critical flaw which will invalidate the whole process. It is based in a specific religious analysis and however, irrational and emotive it is, I am afraid that set of religious beliefs is common in Northern Ireland.

  • Paul

    Paul,
    It seems thanks are due to you as well. Eames Bradley said that unionists regard the IRA campaign as sectarian and at times ethnic cleansing. You seem to utterly reject this position.

    Indeed reconciliation does not seem to be likely to be helped by this group. It seems to provoke exaclty the opposite.

    Most Unionists believe that the Earth is 4000 years old, i care only about the facts and not the perception.

    You are correct Turgon i utterly reject your claim that the IRA campaign was utterly sectarian and at times ethnic cleansing. Ironically though that is exactly the description that should be given to the various Loyalist groupings, helped and guided by State forces. That is indisputable fact, not my perception.

  • Turgon

    Paul,
    Perversely I suggest you and I agree on this in the one specific of Eames Bradley not being likely to help but being likely to hinder.

    Let me suggest to you that it is unlikely that Eames Bradley will detail the collusion that they found. As such this will anger you as you state that collusion was a fact. If I for a moment accept your statement: do you think Eames Bradley will truly blow the whistle on the what why when and where of this collsuion? Do you think it will really call the government to account?

    Since I suggest that this is most unlikely; you will not be reconciled to the government or the state forces by way of Eames Bradley. Indeed you will be further angered by the fact that all the acts of collusion have been brought up by republicans yet nothing came out of it.

    Now move over to my side of the fence. Those whom I want to have named will not be named. Those whom I want to admit to and apologise for their actions will not do so. Those whom I want to admit they were indulging in a sectarian campaign will not do so.

    This process is a politically motivated one and as Dave says Eames and Bradley are stooges of the government. I think what they should have done is say that their task was simply stoking bitterness (as it clearly did during the meetings) and yet was not going to solve the problem. As such it was and is counter productive and as such Eames and Bradley should have the moral and intellectual courage to stand up and say their process is utterly flawed and they would not continue with it.

  • “An agenda which the government want”

    Turgon, I would imagine that as this was a process concocted by the two Governments the membership of CGPNI would not contain anyone likely to rock the so called peace process venture.

    I’m a little surprised that they felt the need to whitewash the actions of Irish governments. An independent examination of events surrounding the Omagh bomb and possibly other attacks too would probably demonstrate that the governments in the UK and Ireland have allowed such attacks to proceed in order to protect their informants. The institutions of the states will always have received greater priority IMO than the protection of the citizens.

    Pete, I fail to understand why you apparently obsess on the rational card when our actions are IMO a mix of the rational and the irrational.

  • Paul

    Turgon, i do agree that the whole exercise is utterly pointless.

    I was merely contesting one of your perceptions.

  • A N Other

    Graduate,

    Easily one of the best posts I have ever read on Slugger (#25, pg1 of this thread).

    The day-to-day drudgery of tedious man-playing & “whatboutery” can become infuriating; your comment was, quite simply, Slugger at it’s best.

    Regardless of the religuous ergo, political persuasions that we have all had foisted upon us by fate, there were inhumane acts of terrorism & suffering inflicted by both sides in The Troubles.

    That each & everyone one of these was carried out under the badge of the Tricolour, or the Union Jack, cuts little ice with me.

    Murder is murder. Bombing is bombing; & sectarianism is pure evil.

    The sooner that both communities accept EQUAL responsibility for ALL of the heinous crimes that were committed in this Island’s bloody past, the closer we will be to genuine reconciliation.

    However, I’m slightly surprised that one Sluggerite did feel the need to describe your post, as a “rant”.

    Your post reflected the need to move on, while not being flippant towards all of the suffering that has occurred.

    Seems far from a rant to me.

    Regards,
    ANO

  • Steve

    Dave

    It seems to me you have it exactly bass akwards

    for 50 years unionists abused their spouse the nationalists, the troubles are merely the out working of the abused spouse no longer willing to take the abuse and fighting back.

    But like most abusers when the abused fight back they want to play the innocent victim. That games busted flush every where in the world except the sectarian enclaves in nIreland

  • susan

    Turgon, I am sad to say the overwhelming impression I am getting from your posts on this thread is that when it comes to victims of state collusion, you are willing to turn your back and close your eyes to broken lives, broken bodies, and broken promises as anyone you castigated at this site over the Paul Quinn murder or have scolded as “sneaking regarders” of paramilitarism, be it republican or loyalist.

    Collusion cost innocent lives, and collusion ruined others beyond repair.

    Yet when the pain of those victims and anguish of their families contradicts your “belief” in your preferred narrative of the Troubles, you disdain even to click and read through a few links. Your immediate assumption that TAFKABO was not a unionist because he expressed concern about the extent of state collusion with loyalist violence is also disillusioning.

    I think most people who support a united Ireland nonetheless now recognise that republican violence was not just a reaction to excessive use of force by the security forces and to loyalist violence — it was instrumental in stoking and intensifying it, often as a deliberate tactic of a guerrilla war against the state.

    Was it inevitable that a guerrilla war against the state would morph into what would be perceived as a sectarian campaign in such a small geographic space? Tragically, I believe it was. And the resentment and distrust will take decades, if not generations, to fade away.

    But equally, unionists supportive of a shared, or at least a more pragmatic and workable, future are not threatened in acknowledging that loyalist violence, state collusion with loyalists, and the excessive and oftentimes sectarian use of force by the security forces was not solely a reaction to terrorism, but directly responsible for politicising and radicalising many republican paramilitaries. That distrust too, will take decades, if not generations, to fade away.

    To acknowledge the hurt, the violence, and the moral depravity of what was inflicted and what was endured in the name of republicanism, in the name of unionism, and in the name of “keeping the peace” is perhaps of even more service to the future than to the past and to the pain of victims. One dimensional narratives that focus on the grief and grievances of one community over another are useful in waging a war, but corrosive to building a peace.

  • My own contribution to this debate is over on Belfast and Beyond and Our Kingdom. Don’t wish to replicate it here, but among my points is that:

    “… Amnesty International’s experience of truth recovery processes in over thirty (primarily post-conflict) countries would suggest that the most effective way of moving towards long-term peace, stability and reconciliation is to confront and interrogate the past and maximise the scope for justice. One does not build a solid and stable future on a foundation of half-lies and concealments.”

  • Steve

    Excelent post Susan and cuts right through all the shite I and others throw around here and sums it up perfectly

  • Pete Baker

    Patrick

    “the most effective way of moving towards long-term peace, stability and reconciliation is to confront and interrogate the past and maximise the scope for justice. One does not build a solid and stable future on a foundation of half-lies and concealments.”

    Good points. And ones I’d agree with.

    There was always a risk that the Eames/Bradley Group would instead produce a process of public counselling.

    Of course, as Susan McKay highlighted previously, that would suit some just fine.

    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.

    The problem, as I mentioned at the time,

    ..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.

  • TAFKABO

    Susan.

    Thank you for that post, whilst I share your opinions I do not have the power to articulate them is such a clear and concise manner.

  • Turgon

    susan,
    Interestingly criticism from you is something I take seriously. Indeed and I apologise to TAFAKBO for calling him a nationalist though I did not intend so to do (not that I regard nationalist or non violent republican as insults but you know what I mean).

    I will say at the outset that I am appalled by all the deaths here. I do genuinely wish that Bobby Sands and Miaread Farrell and indeed Lenny Murphy were with us today. I know enough of and have seen enough of violent death (though thankfully not in my immediate family circle) to wish it on no one and to celebrate it for no one.

    I admit to becoming quite angry over the victims issue and especially over Eames Bradley.

    What annoys me about Eames Bradley is that I believe it to be a process set up by the government in order to come to a pretty likely conclusion. I do not think Eames Bradley et al. have been told what to find but I agree whole heartedly with Dave that the government chose carefully in order to be sure what the end result would be.

    In terms of the troubles there are so many versions of the truth. I think that dreadful word narrative is needed here.

    My narrative (ie what I really believe with all my heart) is that there was a problem here in NI. Violence was wickedly started by Loyalists, chaos ensued and some equally wicked republicans started killing people as well. Both of these sides used murder, sectarianism and ethnic cleansing. I guess the republican terrorists were just better at it for most of the time. I believe (truly) that the agents of the state (police army etc.) tried to stop the violence. I believe they made plenty of honest mistakes. I also believe that a few of them colluded. That appals me and makes me ashamed but I truly believe that it was a small minority.

    I am sure you have a different narrative. That is a belief as unshakable as mine as to what happened. From memory you are a fairly moderate republican (apologies if I am wrong) and as such there will be nationalist / republican narratives more and less hard line than yours. The narratives also depend on where we were all brought up etc. I am sure TAFAKBO has a narrative: most likely a more moderate unionist one than mine.

    The problem is that whatever happens Eames Bradley (who seem to have made a good stab at including everyone’s analysis) will be cherry picked. Also some republicans will claim that Eames Bradley did not have enough access to the information about collusion or did not reveal it all. Unionists will complain that the IRA did not properly participate. As such we will all argue about their report. That will stoke bitterness.

    Even if the British government revealed absolutely everything: would republicans believe it was everything? Would they claim that some of the informers were actually invented to blacken people’s names.? If every one of the supposed informers and more were confirmed would republicans accept it? If the government explained what crimes informers had committed would republicans believe them? Would unionists not demand prosecutions?

    All these questions can be asked in reverse about collusion and about loyalist terrorists.

    If all the British government files were opened unionists would complain that the IRA had not done the same nor the Irish government: it just goes on and on.

    The whole process is flawed because (and here is the nub of my disagreement with Pete Baker on this) these things cannot be discussed dispassionately because they detail the deaths of people here: of friends, relatives etc.

    Indeed there are examples where we know lots of facts (maybe even all the facts) but will never know the answer. As an example take Farrell’s death: we know who shot her and when, where, how often, even what firearm was used. Now was that an unfortunately necessary act to stop her possibly detonating a bomb or was it a state sanctioned execution? I suspect you and I could be taken to the scene: interview all the relevant people at length and still come up with different conclusions.

    Take the murder of Douglas Deering: we know he was a shop keeper in Rosslea. We know who shot him (the IRA). Now was that unfortunate but right in the context of the “war” (some will no doubt think so). Was that wrong but an abberation by the IRA who did not do sectarian ethnic cleansing or was that an example of sectarian ethnic cleansing. I am sure there are people on all sides of that one and certainly there seem to be people willing to defend either of the latter two positions on here.

  • Turgon

    contd

    Maybe in many, many years there will be a unified history of the troubles but I very much doubt it. If I did a blog on Cromwell in Ireland there would be a very sharp disagreement: that was well over 300 years ago.

    I do believe that Eames and Bradley should have known before and certainly should have worked out by now that this process will not produce the truth and it will not produce reconciliation. As such I do believe that Eames and Bradley should never have started their work and having committed the folly of starting it they should have stopped it and should now say that the report will merely stoke bitterness. If they cannot see this they are in my view either extremely foolish or Dave is correct and they are government stooges or (and I am sorry if this is man playing) they are too proud to admit that their process is utterly flawed.

  • TAFKABO

    Turgon.

    No apology necessary, and like you, I dont think being mistaken for a nationalist is anything to be insulted about.
    As for where I was brought up, it was a hardline loyalist estate, those of us who were never involved with paramilitaries were a tiny minority.

    One other thing I would say to your post is that I don’t feel it’s helpful to start accusing epople of being wicked, it makes it far too easy to dismiss someone, when we should be listening to them, even if we don’t agree.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Turgon,

    The passions not only can be put to rational test, it is impossinle for a human not to moderate his instinctive, implulsive reactions with a level of critical self-interrogation. That is precisely what makes us human.

    There is no level of intensity at which this becomes invalid – that is why we do not recognise ‘crimes of passion.’ Nor should we proceed on an irrational basis because emotions remain highly pitched.

    The unfortunate consequence, if you are wrong on this “nub” is you would have to justify:

    Your personal attacks on Eames and Bradley, your cherry-picked case-studies of the Group’s divisive nature and why Eames and Bradley should be held responsible for those who will not be contented by any realistic portrayal – those who are really provoking ‘divisiveness’.

    and also:

    “this process will not produce the truth and it will not produce reconciliation”.

  • Turgon

    Mr. O’Loan,
    Look at the posts on slugger albeit a pretty self selected group. Look at the media reports of the group’s meetings, look at the comments on the group’s web site.

    Do you really think those meetings were examples of a “healing” process? I suggest they were exmples of a raw wound being poked about with and some salt being rubbed into it.

    My attacks on the group have been pretty widely mirrored by others in the unionist community some very hard line some less so. The group has also been attacked by republicans.

    One might suggest that if Eames Bradley annoys both sides they are doing something right. In this case, however, I think that is well wide of the mark. They are annoying many people and I do believe that that will increase bitterness and division.

    In terms of a “realistic” portrayal you miss my point about narratives. I believe my narrative as assuredly as TAFAKBO does his, as you do yours, as say Sammy Morse does, as Sammy McNally does, as open supporters of the IRA do.

    In terms of reconciliation I can only say that I have seen absolutely no sign of it helping in media comments, people’s comments when interviewed, on the Eames Bradley web site. Indeed although my own experience is clearly partial and limited no one I have met either victim or non victim has any time for this process. The victim I know best (the most godly woman I know incidentally) just gives a hollow laugh and rolls her eyes: just one example of course but I have met no one who has enthuasim for this process. Maybe I am meeting only selected people but on this I can only speak from experience and that is my experience.

  • Pete Baker

    Turgon

    “Maybe I am meeting only selected people but on this I can only speak from experience and that is my experience.”

    Indeed.

    There is no problem with you doing this.

    The problem arises, in terms of discussion on Slugger, when you label others [“stupid”, “too fond of the limelight”] purely on the basis that they do not share your position.

    I, and I believe Patrick, take the position that not only is a process “to confront and interrogate the past and maximise the scope for justice” possible, but it is also necessary.

    My own position is also that it is better to do that as soon as possible – Short term pain for long term gain.

    “The poison accumulates in the system.”

    What the Eames/Bradley group eventually propose may not meet that objective fully, but they are the ones who have been tasked with the investigation into what those other, self-interested, parties will accede to at this time.

    Complain about their approach, if you must, but it is necessary.

    If they come up short then criticise them, and blame those other self-interested parties, on the basis of what they propose. The Eames/Bradley group are right, though, about the limitations of the criminal justice system in the circumstances.

    But, as I said, the sooner the better.

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    That is fine. You feel the process is necessary. I regard it as pernicious. You are of course entitiled to your position and indeed to state it. I am also entitiled to my position and indeed to state it.

    I note that you have stopped telling us about the need for “rational argument” have you come to understand that this is an emotive subject. To try to assess it “rationally” is utter folly. People are not merely rational beings, they also have emotions: those emotions are every bit as valid as the rational parts of them.

    I also see that no one have yet addressed with the simple fact that many do not believe that reconciliation can occur without repentance. That is not merely a Fundamentalist Protestant position. I have heard plenty of Roman Catholics and non religious people insist that “repenting” or turning away from the deeds of the past is required first.

    You believe that this process should be done and as soon as possible. I dissent from this process. I regard it as inconceivable that the Eames Bradley process will produce all the truth and that everyone will agree how much of the truth they have produced.

    I believe this process should never have been set up, that it was set up to further a specific political agenda set by the government and that it has stoked division.

    You have challenged me to produce evidence of the negative effects of this process and I have done so. That evidence is in the accounts of the meetings the group have had. It is also on their web site.

    In terms of my views of Eames and Bradley’s motives. Well I have been critical of the motives of many people. In a blog yesterday I criticised and questioned Dr. Paisley’s motives for going into government with SF. I frequently question republicans’ motives. I seem to remember you talking about a half truth process in terms of Gerry Adams’s interest in The March for Truth.

    Why is it unacceptable to question Eames and Bradley’s motives? I think the division and difficulties which this process has created along with the rows that centred around its inception would make it legitimate to question everything about it. I thought we as bloggers did not bow down to accepted wisdom but questioned those in authority. I might with the tongue only a little in the cheek marvel at your acceptance of the motives and sense of two supernaturalists running this process.

  • Pete Baker

    Turgon

    “I note that you have stopped telling us about the need for “rational argument” have you come to understand that this is an emotive subject. To try to assess it “rationally” is utter folly. People are not merely rational beings, they also have emotions: those emotions are every bit as valid as the rational parts of them. ”

    You have missed the point.

    My reference to “rational argument” relates to the discussion on Slugger, not the actions of individuals.

    To quote A. C. Grayling

    There is no excuse for ill manners and insults, though of course there is an explanation: usually, the impotence and weakness of the insulter and his or her case. Insult an idea or an institution, by all means, if you have serious grounds to do so; but not individuals: that is the bottom line.

    “I also see that no one have yet addressed with the simple fact that many do not believe that reconciliation can occur without repentance.”

    Re-read the extract from the Eames/Bradley speech that I posted in the original post – “apologizing to non-combatants just isn’t good enough.”

    “I believe this process should never have been set up..”

    I believe that the objective is necessary.

    We disagree.

    “You have challenged me to produce evidence of the negative effects of this process and I have done so.”

    It was a challenge to produce evidence of your claims about the motives of those involved.

    “I seem to remember you talking about a half truth process in terms of Gerry Adams’s interest in The March for Truth.”

    The key point being to evidence examples of those whom you are criticising differing in their approach.

    We could go on, no doubt.

    The point being – try and focus on the arguments and what evidence is available. Not your assumptions of others’ motivation.

    “I thought we as bloggers did not bow down to accepted wisdom but questioned those in authority.”

    Fine, as long as those questions are based on a solid foundation.

  • percy

    Turgon,
    was thinking about your theory of Depravity; and found a popular resource, its in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
    “There’s nothing so depraved as a man on an ether binge”. Hope that cheers you up.
    If not pop down the chemists for a 100ml of Ether and give it a go 🙂
    There’s a technique to it like sniffing glue!

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Turgs

    >>I will say at the outset that I am appalled by all the deaths here. I do genuinely wish that Bobby Sands and Miaread Farrell and indeed Lenny Murphy were with us today.<

  • Damian O’Loan

    Turgon,

    You’re right that you’re not the only unionist to oppose this group. Indeed it has its detractors on all sides. But many are motivated by a desire to bury their crimes or knowledge once and for all. Others, like yourself, are operating from the premisses that it is in the wider interest not to fully disclose information on our past, and that the wider interest over-rules those affected individuals’ right to justice.

    Where you can and must apply rational criteria is, among other areas, in justifying these premisses. The second, in particular, runs contrary to the jurisprudence underpinning all Western judicial systems, in theory if not in practice – including, presumably, that of the theoretical Republic the PIRA, and SF, pursued. Briefly, no, the citizen’s right to justice is without caveat. The first you have yet to justify – it can’t be simply presumed. I would say this is the “nub” of the disagreement. But still you would be bound to justify your personal attacks, your interpretation of the group’s divisiveness (and I’m perhaps a little more sceptical than you are regarding the News Letter, or the Andersonstown News), why the Group are responsible for disagreement and why disagreement is intrinsically a bad, not positive, thing.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Apologies there Turgs, probably more man than ball. However my tongue is all bitten through. Thread after thread is the same narrative.

    The truth will in the main out, and even those like yourself will eventually be the better for it.

  • Granni Trixie

    Is the analysis of Eames and co not sectarian? eg talk of Republicans not grasping how they have hurt unionists: what about the hurt of people who do not consider themselves unionists? Many Catholics in the heartlands were opposed to physical force methods – do Republicans understand how they have hurt them?

    I do however think we will have reached a turning point when unionist politicans accept that the arm of the state carried out wrong actions as well as paramilitaries.

  • Granni Trixie

    Patrick: I am surprised at your contribution given that Amnesty lost the moral high ground in many peoples eyes by its policy during the troubles not to campaign on punishment beatings. Nowadays ofcourse it campaigns in NI on domestic violence etc and now on the past. Consistent or what?

    Let me make it clear however that I support and admire the leadership and courage of Amnesty in its work beyond NI.

  • susan

    Steve-o and TAFKABO, my sincere thanks. I may be concise, TAFKABO, but if I had half your tenacity I’d be better equipped to “teach ’em what they don’t know how,” to quote Johnny Cash.

    Granni T, if you have not yet had the chance to do so, it is well worth reading the entire text of the full Eames/Bradley speech. It’s both more nuanced and encompassing than I expected, and worth taking the time it takes to read, at the very least out of respect for the many victims who did devote time and emotion to sharing their experiences with the Group.

    Turgon, I’m disappointed in your post, although I truly appreciate the time and thought you spent in your considered response. I understand and I share many of your concerns that the Consultative Group may be handicapped from start to finish by who will talk to them and who will not, and by limits that may be imposed by we know not who on how much truth will be brought to public scrutiny.

    I am struggling, however, with your stubborn insistence on linking the condemnation of collusion to personal prejudices. People of all political persuasions, and none, can condemn paramilitary violence and express human sympathy for its victims. Increasingly, as contributions to this thread show, the same cross-community understanding is emerging of the anti-democratic damage done both to society and to victims by collusion.

    Had you referenced even one talking point from the findings of the Stevens Inquiry, the Ombudsman’s report on the activities of Mark Haddock and co., Jonty Brown’s revelations, or indeed any of the credible, verifiable reporting across a broad spectrum of media, it would have reassured me that you really do feel as much for the continuing anguish of collusion’s victims, and their families as you clearly do for the victims of paramilitary violence. Use the search engine of your own beloved Impartial Reporter (I subscribe, too) and read up on the long ordeals of the families of slain Nationalist councillor Patsy Kelly, or Seamus Ludlow, or the Reavey brothers, just to name a few.

    Please don’t imagine you have any idea what my participation would be in a discussion we are not having on the death of Mairéad Farrell. Whether consciously or no, by saying you condemn “all” deaths but then immediately naming only possibly the three most controversial combatants of the entire conflict — (well, actually, I believe we do have consensus on Lenny Murphy, don’t we?) — you appear to be clinging to the nonsense that only those who willingly chose to take up arms suffered because of collusion, or because of excessive or illegal use of force by the security forces. It is not so.

    As Brian Rowan wrote in the Telegraph two days ago,

    “The speech by the co-chairs of the Consultative Group gives us some idea of what they are trying to achieve as they move towards making their report this autumn.

    They want not just the IRA and the loyalists to say sorry — but have challenged the State to do the same for those times when it acted outside the law.

    The context given in the Eames/Bradley commentary was not one of goodies and baddies, and of a piggy in the middle trying to keep warring tribes apart.

    It was more thinking than that — more challenging, more credible in its analysis.

    And for all its hard truth, it was worth saying and had to be said.”

  • GT: just because there was no specific campaign from Amnesty on so-called ‘punishment beatings’, does not mean that we did not criticise these and other paramilitary acts (we did and do, where similar events occur around the world). I can assure you that such brutality is utterly at odds with our vision of a world where everyone enjoys their human rights.
    Anyway, thanks for your fulsome endorsement of our work internationally!

  • picador

    The British government will ignore Eames & Bradley just like they ignored Cory, swept the Stephens Report under the carpet and fitted up Stalker. They do not have an iota of conscience and will never come clean about their multitudinous crimes.