The Noble Lord Eames has kept a fairly low profile since the glitteringly successful launch of his personal credibility self destruction campaign (also known as the Consultative Group on the Past Report). One of the problems for Eames is that now that his brief period in the limelight (rather uncomfortable as it turned out) is over he has to go back to being a retired CoI prelate; one who is now rather unpopular with the overwhelming majority of his former flock. As such, I always suspected an attempt at a degree of revisionism on his report. Somewhat appropriately it was reported in 1st April’s News Letter.
Clearly there are bits which Eames will want the unionist community to focus on for him to move on from his personally disastrous report:
In a speech at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Donegal, Lord Eames said: “Future generations will look back to the conflict in Northern Ireland and will read of fear and uncertainty.
“They will read of division and murder. They will read of great bravery and courage of those who kept the light of hope alive.”
“They will read of victims and of innocent people who carried scars of mind and body for the rest of their lives.”
“But they will also read of the bravery of those who sought to protect our society from terrorism and who paid a huge price, the ordinary ranks of the RUC, UDR, and later the PSNI and RIR.”
“Men and women who returned from duty to live with their families in homes which were always at risk.”
“Men and women who faced murder at their work and in their homes. Many of them still carry physical and mental scars of those days. As many of them asked us does society really appreciate our sacrifice?”
It is unclear whether Lord Eames feels that they agree that he appreciates their sacrifice: not if the reaction of unionist politicians, victims groups or indeed the comments his group gathered are anything to go by. Of course at the time he found ways to dismiss all those comments but I suppose now a bit of rewriting of his previous actions is called for.
Unfortunately also his attempts at explanation for the report were as flawed as his attempts to air brush out equating the death of the innocent with those of their murderers.
“Our report looked at a time when united condemnation of murder and violence did not exist. It was a time when our society was deeply divided and suspicious.”
“It was a time when terrorism stalked our society. It was a time when any suggestion of shared responsibility in government was impossible.”
“Then came the ceasefires and the Belfast Agreement and the course of history changed.”
The noble Lord is again being disingenuous here. It is undoubtedly true that society here was deeply divided (just as it is now). However, he is again conflating two different things. The division is true as is the fact that shared government did not work (though it was tried at Sunningdale). However, there was pretty united condemnation of murder and violence. The reactions of the overwhelming majority of nationalists to Enniskillen, Teebane, Kingsmills and Darkley were disgust, revolution and unequivocal condemnation; the same reactions came from the elected nationalist politicians of the time. Yes there were a few dishonourable exceptions: but only a few. Equally the overwhelming majority of unionists were disgusted by and condemned unreservedly Greysteel, the Shankill Butchers, Sean Graham’s bookmakers and the Loughlinisland murders. Again there were dishonourable exceptions but not many
What Eames is trying to pretend, however, is that these facts did not exist. This is to allow him to gain some shred of an excuse for regarding the murders of the past as different to the murders of the present (just as I predicted he would). The only way he can carry off this deception, however, is to pretend that we were all, in some way supportive of, or in some way guilty of, the crimes of the past. A quote from Eames Bradley explains this: A reconciling society takes collective responsibility for the past instead of attributing blame and avoiding responsibility.
Again as I said at the time -This sort of nonsense ignores the fact that in law and in most reasonable peoples minds ‘society’ has nothing to take responsibility for. Individuals committed very wrong acts. Lord Eames should remember that the Bible suggests that everyone is accountable before God for his or her sin, not for other peoples. ‘The Past’ in question here is actually the wrong, immoral and evils acts of the past. Any of us who did not commit crimes here is innocent. As such we have no responsibility for the actions of the past. If Lord Eames wishes to claim he is responsible for something in the past that is for his conscience: Mine and I submit almost all of ours should be clear on this matter. Let us leave Lord Eames to wallow in the self righteousness of his own self appointed guilt should he choose.
Eames has brought to his latest comments the same intellectually lazy and dishonest attitude he brought to his whole report. Unfortunately for the noble Lord, it is not only Jim Allister who has called for his whole report to be binned. Opposition to his report seems about as united as opposition to murder always was. However, I am sure the noble Lord will not let such inconvenient truths get in the way of his campaign to rehabilitate himself: how successful that campaign will be, however, remains open to question.
As I said throughout Eames Bradley is not fit for purpose and had Lord Eames thought a little more about the true nature of the task in hand he would have realised that ages ago. That would, however, have required more lateral thinking and intellectual honesty than he has ever shown before and he shows no sign of gaining it now.