“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.