Eames/Bradley – MSM reaction from respectful scepticism to rage

Picking up from Mick’s blogburst, MSM treatment of Eames/Bradley is worth a review, including their blogs I think . (I hope most agree). Response to the report was fairly muted and not over-prominent. These days, what ‘s a bill of only £300 million? You have to rise to a least a few billion to make most front pages now. You wouldn’t know it, but careful monitoring of the Europa event showed that the widely reported rows and pushing and shoving didn’t actually dominate proceedings. Nevertheless the confrontations were a godsend for hacks struggling for an angle. My old trade seldom turns down the chance of turning a stereotype into a metaphor of – well, everything. That’s right, keep it simple guys! Such delving behind the shouting in the comment and coverage as there was, was in general respectfully sceptical – viz Mike White in the Guardian who posed several awkward questions summed up in my own favourite – what stick or what carrot exists for anyone to admit anything, faced with a long standing “de facto amnesty” and a lawyer-lite legacy commission?

Will, for instance, the family of murdered Catholic lawyer Pat Finucane, a cause celebre for both communities, settle for that formula? Is it even legal to curtail long-sought inquests, for instance into alleged army shoot-to-kill cases, some Belfast observers asked last night….After five years the Legacy Commission might recommend a general amnesty. Will the bad guys on either side have any incentive to risk ‘fessing up before then? And what about those informers, exiles or the on-the-run suspects?

It was left mainly to the English feminist champion Beatrix Campbell to direct fire at the UK government and its servants for responsibility for perpetuating the conflict.

Northern Ireland has ended the violence that – without our permission – Downing Street, MI5 and the security services sustained. If Britain is to warrant its claims to be a peacemaker, and if Northern Ireland is to fully know itself, that open secret must become the national narrative.

This line, once a republican staple, was notably absent from Mairtin O’Muilleoir’s Comment is Free contribution.

While the protesters represented no more than the recalcitrant rump of beleaguered unionism, their antics prompted the nervous nellies of the DUP into rejecting the 190-page report before most of them had got past the introduction.

Cue the ructions, a gift to reporters including the Independent’s David Young who managed to discern a shaft of sunlight in one well-covered confrontation.

Daniel Bradley, a Catholic already incensed by unionist protests which delayed the start of proceedings, could barely contain himself as Michelle Williamson, a Protestant, let fly.. Then suddenly Mr Bradley tentatively reached out his right hand. She took it cautiously and in a remarkable act of conciliation the pair wished each other well. “We need to move on,” he said as he clasped her palm. “We have to put this behind us.”

The Times picked up the narrative.

(Mr Bradley) said: “At the end of the day my brother’s killer has to meet his maker. I would love to meet the soldiers who did kill my brother, mostly to forgive them. Because they do need to be forgiven.

For Ms Williamson, as with many other victims of the Troubles, forgiveness of her killers may be more elusive. Her parents were among nine victims of a bomb detonated without warning which also killed the man planting it, inside a busy fishmonger’s on a Saturday in the Shankill Road, Belfast.
I don’t think that I’ll ever get over it. My mum and dad were carrying shopping bags, their killers were carrying a bomb — how can they be treated in the same way now? For my mother and father to be equated with their murderer by the giving of this £12,000 is simply disgusting and I will not be accepting one penny of it.”

The Times’ Melanie Reid was among several who went so far as to slam the recognition payments – as a Scot who used to work on the Herald, she’s familiar with our compensation culture, so closely linked to her own.

You can only stand open-mouthed at the naivety of this particular suggestion… o the proposal for payments is deeply disingenuous; a game of pointless semantics in a society that seeks recompense if it does no more than trip over a crack in the pavement.

Never knowingly understated, the Sun called the payments “blood money” and devoted a full page spread to the news story and comment by Omagh’s Michael Gallagher

On an expected change of tack in an editorial, the Irish Times, which often finds hope in situation where few others can, held out for a more balanced response later. Taking a more analytical line, the paper highlighted the puzzling issue of how the estimated total bill was arrived at for what we surely must now call the reconciliation process.

Dislocation between the compensation issue and far-reaching recommendations affecting new inquiry procedures, reconciliation, supports for victims and survivors and the building of a shared future was evident in the relative costs. The former would cost £40 million, the latter, 10 times as much.

£300 million surely. But even so, why so high – even though I understand that figure subsumes the present costs of the Historic Enquiries Team and the ongoing Cory inquiries, which are intended to be the last of their kind?

Deeper reactions are sure to come – more considered and less visceral than some of yesterday’s perhaps, but not necessarily any more favourable.

  • I see Beatrix Campbell thinks that writing off the votes of others is one of the most democratic and egalitarian systems in the world. Enough said.