“Still in that jungle, still digging foxholes”

Perhaps the most striking feature about the reaction to the Eames-Bradley Report was the speed with which the DUP returned to the pre-St Andrews mode of outright rejection of proposals/ initiatives on behalf of unionism, in spite of more mature responses from that very quarter- including some interesting individuals.
The truth, of course, is that the ‘£12,000 proposal’ that so enraged certain elements within political Unionism did so primarily because it challenged the narrative that there exists ‘real’ victims of the conflict that can be clearly separated from the others by virtue of a monochrome prism which ably assists in the process of selecting which victims to deem worthy of proper remembrance – and, presumably, compensation.
That’s not to say that victims on all sides did not -and do not- have their own genuinely felt emotions about this proposal.
Mick has mentioned the ability of ‘the Irish’ to confer sainthood on individuals and in the process, to quote Niall Ferguson, ‘keep the bitterness alive.’ Of course, there can be no greater example of this than in the annual commemoration of the subjugation of the catholic Irish that is the Twelfth of July ‘celebrations,’ with all its associated baggage- not to mention commemorating the ‘relief’ of Derry from the indigenous Irish. Of course, examples of Irish nationalists commemorating their dead also illustrate a similar desire to remember past torch-holders, albeit with less intensity.
It was entirely appropriate that the DUP DCAL Minister, Gregory Campbell, would use the opportunity of the Eames-Bradley launch to finally attempt to bury the Maze/ Long Kesh stadium proposal. The party’s preference for an Ulster Rugby/ ‘Norn Iron’ only stadium (preferably in East Belfast, no less) has been public knowledge for some time, and the inferred exclusion of all things ‘Irish’ from the preferred stadia ties in neatly with the exclusive narrative preferred by DUP stalwarts.
But there are problems abound for the largest party within unionism. For one, the decision to cry foul over the ‘compensation’ proposal would appear to run contrary to the political consensus as picked up by the Eames-Bradley group during its meetings with political representatives- which Dennis Bradley was keen to point out in numerous media briefings immediately after the launch.
And, perhaps, more decisively, the DUP’s acceptance of a Victims Commission delicately balanced with a close relative of a victim of British State violence and a relative of a victim of republican violence speaks more convincingly about the party’s real position regarding the compromises that need to be made as we move ahead as a society than the gallery playing that has been in evidence in recent days.

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    Good point on an excellent example of the ‘Jo Moore Good Day to bury bad news’ day…

    To be fair, East was the preference of Dawn Purvis, PUP MLA for the, erm, East. Frankly though, I understand a similar state of affairs broadly pervades in the West.

    Frankly, my view has always revolved around the real budgets available, even before the credit crunch.

    It is the verticality of the stands and the sheer scale of Croker that makes three sports viable. But is Soccer, Rugby and GAA really viable on such a tiny budget either at the Maze, the northern foreshore or Ormeau?

    On the real position of the DUP, I await with interest to hear a robust response from unionists to your post…

  • Duncan Gardner

    Chris and Mick,

    Forgive what may be a silly question. Where are the DUP’s preferred sites for a new stadium in east Belfast? I rely on ourweecountry.co.uk for news of forthcoming matches and venues, and unless I’m being more than usually dim the site (which includes one or two DUP-supporting regulars) hasn’t mentioned any sites recently- credible or otherwise. The Ormeau Park plan seems to have faded and the runway’s supposedly too close at Tillysburn, to quote two examples from a year or two back.

    Inferred absence of ‘Irishness’ following from evident absence of anything at all, maybe?

    The party’s preference for an Ulster Rugby/ ‘Norn Iron’ only stadium (preferably in East Belfast, no less) has been public knowledge for some time,

  • Dave

    “And, perhaps, more decisively, the DUP’s acceptance of a Victims Commission delicately balanced with a close relative of a victim of British State violence and a relative of a victim of republican violence speaks more convincingly about the party’s real position regarding the compromises that need to be made as we move ahead as a society than the gallery playing that has been in evidence in recent days.” – Chris Donnelly

    The shambles over the appointment of the Victims Commissioner did what it was designed to do: discredit that limited concession to the victims by their principle victimizers, as they continue to do.

    In addition to allowing them to set the terms and conditions by which their victims acquire a modicum of (if any) truth or justice, it is true that allowing members of murder gangs to hold political power would result in subversion of society’s moral imperative that criminals should not profit from their crimes along with any other moral order that might act to impede the political path of those murder gangs. To this end, we see them attempt them (and the sovereign powers that injected them into the political process) try to undermine the moral code that rightly classifies them as murderers, thugs, and thieves by such dismal expedients of conferring moral equivalence; deliberate blurring of the distinction between victim and victimizer; deliberate blurring of the distinction between terrorist and statesman; deliberate blurring of the distinction between pro-state policeman and anti-state murderer, and deliberate blurring of the distinction between organizers of sectarian murder gangs and leaders of political parties who are inflammatory bigots, etc, etc.

    You can see the supporters of the Shinners deploy another tact to undermine public morality above, wherein they proffer the sentiment that society should not object to murder gangs being rewarded for the murder of society’s citizens because a Unionist political party (as if a party promoting its own self-serving agenda is to be your new moral template) does not object. They proffer the sentiment that such moral codes that may impede the progress of the murder gangs in their self-serving pursuit of power over the citizens they terrorised must be abandoned as [pragmatic] “compromises” in much the same manner, no doubt, that the right to life of their victims were ‘abandoned’ by those murder gangs as “compromises” that must also be made.

  • joeCanuck

    proposal’ that so enraged certain elements within political Unionism

    Chris,
    I think you’re being a tad selective. I’m in no way a Unionist and, while not enraged, I do think that this proposal is totally misguided. You cannot purchase reconciliation.

  • latcheeco

    Dave,
    “Sovereign powers…organizers of sectarian murder gangs” but it’s so easy to get mixed up on who’s who?Incidently what three sports was Mr Campbell refering to? Surely football and hurling would make four.

  • slug

    The proposal has no chance now, given its cool reception in the UK media.

  • cynic

    Chris

    Your analysis on the objections of ‘political unionism’ (whatever that is) are biased and unfair. As a unionist I dont object to this because it conflcits with some political narrative. I object because:-

    1 I think, for example, that its wrong in principle to treat one of the Shankill Butchers on the same basis as his victims

    2 I think its a mad waste of public money that could be applied more selectively to help those who really need it

    3 there is an already admitted inherent bias in the plans. Those who ‘were never in the IRA’ or the UDA for that matter will simply lie and face no compulsion. Denis Bardely hopes that pressure within the community will induce them to co-operate, God help his wit!

    4 The Commission will end up swamped in a sea of litigation to stop the naming of informers or suspects on human rights grounds. This will take more than 5 years to resolve through the courts. Look at the position with the enquiries. Again Bradley and Eames say this will be different but how will it? The legal issues are identical.

    5 The entire package will do nothing to help promote reconciliation. Indeed, the two main parties have no real electoral interest in doing so and if this is accepted then we are simply in for 5 years of bitter sore picking before we end up broadly in the same position as today.

    6 it will coast around £250 / person in Northern Ireland …and that’s probably an underestimate after we add in lawyers fees.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    GAA, for the intents and purposes of developing a ground space play on the exact same pitch Latch and is run administratively by the same body. Are you vying to take our Pedant of the Year Award away from Pete?

    Duncah: the Titanic Quarter.

  • William

    Chris Donnelly states that the Victims Commission contains, ‘….close relative of a victim of British State violence’

    I wonder which of the four that ‘close relative’ is….as I recall, one ‘Victims’ Commissioner, lost a brother, Antoine MacGiolla Bhride ‘who was killed on active service in 1984’, whilst trying to murder a Protestant member of HM Forces… [Note: See http://www.anphoblacht.com/news/detail/31740 for confirmation of his activities….when he was killed] Some ‘victim’ of ‘British State violence’

    As to Real victims…..Is this terrorist brother of Patricia MacBride, the ‘Commissioner’ and the Shankill terrorist murderer, Thomas Begley to be compared with 9 year-old Kathryn Eakin, murdered in the Claudy bombings in 1972, whilst cleaning the front window of her Father’s grocery shop? It is time some Republicans got a life….after all you were responsible for taking enough lives!!

  • Silver Line

    Any right thinking person would oppose Eames/Bradly on this it was an insult, however this is a Westminster Government initiative and no pollitical party is to blame for its conception, it could be a political victory for the DUP if they could stop it though?

  • William

    I for one am glad that the ‘Maze Project’ is dead in the water….my only regret is that the NIO Direct Rule Ministers and the Executive / DCAL have wasted around £180m on Consultation fees / Design Teams etc….

    My objections to it were based purely on location….most recent ‘new built’ stadia in the UK., e.g. the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wembley and Twickenham are inner city….near to cafes and bars, where there is atmosphere.

    Going to the Maze for any of the sports would have meant easy access [yes, near the M1] by car or coach, get into the stadium and be served food and drink by a ‘catering company’ with a squad of ‘pin money’ bar / cafe staff. I and thousands of others prefer the Lisburn Road / City enjoyment of fine restuarants / cafes and bars and whilst Windsor is far from perfect…it can surely be upgraded in the short-term and hopefully a new stadium will be built either in North / East Belfast in the future. Furthermore, a 25k seater stadium isn’t required and with the GAA having their own facilities, I can’t imagine that they would have had many matches at the Maze, other than perhaps the ‘Bobby Sands Cup’ match at the opening of the terrorist shrine, which the DUPes have ensured will still be built.

  • Scaramoosh

    Not so much “that there exists ‘real’ victims of the conflict” but rather, that there are different categoris of dead people – the good and the bad.

    As they themselves, will one day learn, there aren’t; there are only those that are left behind to grieve the loss; regardless of the circumstances in which it occured.

    Unknowingly, perhaps, this cul de sac form of thinking, takes them down that famous blind alley that speaks of the great and the good fenian dead.

    It is time to let the dead rest in peace, and to let all of those that lost loved ones to get on quietly with their own lives.

    Squabbling over the status of dead people and their relatives, is primative and squalid in the extreme.

  • The Raven

    Cynic writes “I think its a mad waste of public money that could be applied more selectively to help those who really need it”

    Cynic, just a point, but I’d be interested in seeing how much money has been spent from PEACE I, II, the Extension Programme, and for future purposes, PEACE III on just such selective applications.

    It must run to the millions. Perhaps not £300m, but it’s a lot of money. (An FOI would get you a rough figure.) What I am saying is, that that spend has already occured, and we’re still not happy? We still don’t think it’s enough?

    There are many thousands of us who suffered in one way or another. And there are many thousands who didn’t, thankfully Perhaps Scaramoosh is correct. Time to let the past go.

  • reporters bandage

    all very good but what about the editor of the Sunday tabloid in a 5 minute fist fight with three of his own reporters after censoring and spiking a story on a famous local tv/radio personality after the reporters had him bang to rights after his house was raided by police and his computer was siezed for images of juveniles

  • cynic

    Raven

    I agree. I was trying to highlight the madness of the proposed shotgun approach….fire money everywhere and hope some of it helps. Why? If say that your brother was killed in 1972 I just cannot understand the reasoning process that suggest that £12k now will help assuage the pain of that through ‘recognition’.

    This has the hallmark of:-

    1 a committee decision

    2 something imported from another process elsewhere that doesn’t translate well to our society and history….that’s not been parochial, I just think that culture is everything in these issues

  • William

    I often wonder why Republicans [most of whom supported the IRA murder squads] cannot answer a similar question. Here it is again:

    Is the terrorist brother of Patricia MacBride, the so called ‘Victims Commissioner’ and the Shankill terrorist murderer, Thomas Begley to be compared with 9 year-old Kathryn Eakin, murdered in the Claudy bombings in 1972, whilst cleaning the front window of her Father’s grocery shop?

    Two Murderers who lived by the gun and bomb and died becuase of this; little Kathryn Eakin a totally innocent 9 year-old.

    NOW REPUBLICANS – ANSWER THE QUESTION

  • Wilde Rover

    Dave,

    “In addition to allowing them to set the terms and conditions by which their victims acquire a modicum of (if any) truth or justice, it is true that allowing members of murder gangs to hold political power would result in subversion of society’s moral imperative that criminals should not profit from their crimes along with any other moral order that might act to impede the political path of those murder gangs. To this end, we see them attempt them (and the sovereign powers that injected them into the political process) try to undermine the moral code that rightly classifies them as murderers, thugs, and thieves by such dismal expedients of conferring moral equivalence; deliberate blurring of the distinction between victim and victimizer; deliberate blurring of the distinction between terrorist and statesman; deliberate blurring of the distinction between pro-state policeman and anti-state murderer, and deliberate blurring of the distinction between organizers of sectarian murder gangs and leaders of political parties who are inflammatory bigots, etc, etc.”

    It’s been a while since I’ve had a good irony fix.

    It is not unlike some of the arguments used by those who are critical of the development of the state of Israel.

    These false paradigms would be amusing if they weren’t so tragic.

  • Jimmy Sands

    How dare O’Millionaire sneer at his organisation’s victims like that?

  • latcheeco

    Admin,
    Pedantic maybe, but isn’t the fact that in actuality four sports will be played on one field relative.
    Cynic,
    Hard to argue that this isn’t the latest manifestation of the peace process industry.

  • Bruno Spiro

    Republicans are of course happy on the face of it to agree that all ‘victims’ are equal. Given their responsibility for the bulk of violent deaths why wouldn’t they jump at this get-out clause?

    In similar fashion the ‘it was a war’ mantra is beloved of republicans.

    Of course it was only a ‘war’ up to a point. When the enemy was successful, as in the intelligence penetration of pira and strikes such as Loughgall, it’s then no longer a war and the demands for inquiries and ‘justice’ are raised.

    All the while keeping stum about what they were up to, using ‘code of honour’ or never-was-a- member-myself evasion.

    Hence we have an inquiries industry focused exclusively on the state, the grouping responsible for about 10% of deaths; a situation that even Eames Bradley admit would continue.

  • Chris Donnelly

    William
    To answer your question, I doubt anyone would or indeed could equate the life of a combatant in a conflict with that of a child killed as a result of the actions of combatants.

    You- as many often do on this site- pick out a particularly tragic and horrible incident in an attempt to prove a point which really can’t be applied selectively to this particular conflict, any more or less than it can be applied to other conflicts.

    The ‘innocent’ always suffer in war, a rather uncomfortable fact often lost on all sides when it comes to remembering fallen combatants.

    With regard to the way forward and Eames-Bradley, I believe Brian Feeney’s article in this week’s Irish News isn’t far off the mark- look it up.

  • William

    CHRIS DONNELLY:

    I have an interest in Claudy…the re-opening of the PSNI Inquiry and the Ombudsman’s investigation [Report due soon we’re told] happened because I didn’t let the victims of Claudy down. I chair their Group and I make no apology to you Republicans for mentioning Kathryn. Her Mother died a few months ago….a broken women who had 36+ years of suffering…her Father has never got over the death of his only daughter and is not a well man these days.
    You and your Republican cohorts wish to equate victims because you caused the greatest majority of them….2000+ of the 3700 deaths were the responsibility of your Republican terrorist friends. Well, I don’t equate victims….there are REAL victims and there are those who became victims because of their terrorism involvement.
    Jim Lynagh died at Loughgall…a man who killed over 30 people…he deserved to die – Kathryn Eakin didn’t. I will never forget that little girl and I’m proud to fight on behalf of her and the other 8 victims killed by ‘Father’ James Chesney, a Roman Catholic priest and his terrorist friends, called in from South Londonderry by a certain gentleman who now holds high office, to cause havoc and hopefully ease the pressure on the Bogside / Creggan, on that fateful day, 31st July, 1972, in Operation Motorman. Five of those who died were Roman Catholic, four were Protestant. The group [who didn’t merit an invite to the launch of the Eames / Bradley Report, unlike the bearded Terrorist] support my view….the Claudy victims are REAL VICTIMS…..Lynagh, MacBride, Begley and other IRA terrorists are not victims.

  • Chris Donnelly

    the Claudy victims are REAL VICTIMS

    William
    No doubt they are, indeed, every bit as much as those killed by loyalists, the British army, RUC and UDR.

    I would contend that you could make a logical argument that a distinction could be made between combatants and non-combatants, if one was so inclined. As I said earlier in the thread, such a distinction could readily apply to any and every conflict since the start of time.

    But throwing out examples and attempting to draw a ‘real victim’ (capital letters or not) line under this atrocity or that really doesn’t progress matters.

  • Turgon

    Mr. Donnelly,
    It might as you suggest “progress matters” if people in Sinn Fein who undoubtedly know who committed this crime, which even you seem to agree was the murder of complete innocents, would come forward and tell us.

    Many have a good idea who helped commit these murders. If SF were serious about reconciliation on this issue they could come forward. There were no policemen or soldiers, no one at Claudy to kill other than ordinary people. I wonder if SF could tell us who they think committed this crime? They might even try expelling the people who SF think did it if they were indeed SF members?

    I doubt William will be holding his breath waiting for the names.

  • latcheeco

    Turgon,
    I am not sure that’s what Chris said at all.And I don’t want to put words in his mouth but was he not saying that equating one death to another is an ultimately fruitless exercise? Whether the death occurred from a carbomb or from being sprayed by a police machine gun as the child was sleeping in bed, horrible things happen in war. Ultimately blame must lie with those who caused the war.
    William,
    I am sure you have everybody’s sympathy as your hurt is clearly palpable.

  • Returner

    In addition to allowing them to set the terms and conditions by which their victims acquire a modicum of (if any) truth or justice, it is true that allowing members of murder gangs to hold political power would result in subversion of society’s moral imperative that criminals should not profit from their crimes along with any other moral order that might act to impede the political path of those murder gangs.

    However Sinn Fein were not rewarded with their present political positions for acts of violence. They were awarded them by the acquisition of votes.

    The first port of call for people to blame for giving Sinn Fein a position of power are the nationalist electorate. Why does nobody appear to blame them when they are the primary reason Sinn Fein have the positions they have? As far as I know the nationalist electorate are not controlled by the UK government or by Special Branch.

    It’s OK saying those linked to past misdeeds should not have power, but what if they get the votes? Do we abandon democracy on the basis of this principle? At some point we have to say OK, pending acceptance of a peaceful democratic process.

    We do not prevent Leslie Grantham from being a successful actor just because he’s a murderer.

    If people vote for murderers to represent them then, in a sense, we should blame the voters more than the murderers, if we are to blame anyone.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Chris,

    I doubt anyone would or indeed could equate the life of a combatant in a conflict with that of a child killed as a result of the actions of combatants.

    Has Gerry cleared you to say that? Because I think that would be a new one for Sinn Fein. To be clear you do not equate the death of Thomas Begley with the deaths he caused? That suggests that you think one has greater weight than the other, so which way round is it. Is Begley’s death more regretful, or those of the people he murdered?