I have practically no doubt that one of my least favourite prelates condemns unreservedly the murders of last week. The major problem is that Eames Bradley could scarcely propose anything other than the rapid arrest of the terrorists involved in last weeks events, their prosecution and prolonged imprisonment. To do anything else now would reduce their battered credibility, already almost zero, into significant minus numbers.However, in their report Eames Bradley did not suggest the prosecution of the terrorists under the full rigor of the law. Let us go back to a few of the quotes from Eames Bradleys document The Past should be dealt with in a manner which enables society to become more defined by its desire for true and lasting reconciliation rather than by division and mistrust, seeking to promote a shared and reconciled future for all. Then we have A reconciling society takes collective responsibility for the past instead of attributing blame and avoiding responsibility.
The problem for Eames Bradley is that the community is now fairly united in its reconciled desire to attribute blame to the criminals involved in these latest murders. If Eames Bradley proposed that after five years another commission should suggest an amnesty for the perpetrators of the latest outrages there would be an outcry. If Eames Bradley demanded that after any possible conviction of these latest criminals, they then be allowed to have their records wiped clean; there would be near hysteria.
There is, however, no logically consistent way by which Eames Bradley can justify differing treatment for these latest criminals than for previous murderers. There are a few by which a distinction could conceivably be drawn but they lack any semblance of logical or moral consistency.
One would be to accept the legitimacy of the previous terrorist campaigns and that indeed in the past the IRA (and I guess then the loyalists) were fighting a genuine war. That would allow them to denounce the current terrorists as murderers with no support etc. It would of course also be to buy at least in part into SFs analysis of the conflict that then was a war which is now over. This would clearly be extremely problematic since Eames Bradley, after briefly flirting with that idea of the troubles being a war, seemed to go off it. Such a plan would also result in Lord Eames especially receiving opposition which would make David Simpsons look mild.
Another option the noble Lord and Mr. Bradley might consider would be to suggest that the past was the past and as such …taking into account the receding possibilities pursuing the last lot of terrorists is impractical whereas the new ones may be realistically apprehendable. That of course goes back to the flaw I mentioned previously that in most jurisdictions murderers continue to be pursued for many years. It would also logically imply that if the murderers from last week can manage to remain at large for a few years then (according to Eames Bradley) their pursuit is pointless. Such a suggestion would again be likely to cause outrage. However, again that is the logic of the Eames Bradley proposals, as is the implicit admission I mentioned above that in the future an amnesty would be a reasonable idea.
The reality of course is that the latest murders are a carbon copy of the previous 3500 murders. There are no differences unless one accepts the republican movements (and loyalists) attempts at self justification. Eames Bradley can pretend a distinction and hence, abandon themselves to the opprobrium of all reasonable people. Alternatively they could admit that these latest murders expose the intellectual and moral vacuity at the heart of their project and that it is not fit for purpose. I suspect, however, they will actually try to keep their heads down and if necessary mumble some meaningless and intellectually lazy platitudes: no change there then.