A couple of weeks ago Denis Bradley tried to defend and maybe even re introduce the £12,000 payment for the relatives of victims which had provoked so much anger when the Eames Bradley report was launched. Mick has already noted Malachi ODoherty’s blog where Malachi explains that Bradley claimed at the John Hewitt summer school that the payment idea came from the victims commission. The last discussion on slugger focused on whether or not Bradley’s version of events was correct. Equally interesting, however, is what Bradley’s interjection may say about the Eames Bradley commission.
There now appears to be a clear difference opening up between the noble Lord and Mr. Bradley. Bradley still seems to support the payments whereas the noble Lord has sort of come round to the position that they were a mistake. This is interesting in part because it might give additional credence to the suggestion made by a number of commentators including David Simpson in Westminster that although the report bore the finger prints of Eames it followed Bradley’s agenda. By this reading of Eames Bradley it was Bradley who created most of the toxic report and Eames was truly the Lundy: less the complete traitor more the incompetent and moral coward; though the effect was similarly disastrous both for the report and Eames’s personal credibility. Eames’s recent lack of public appearance after his seemingly ineffectual self rehabilitation programme means that we cannot establish his current position. The other committee members have also remained remarkably silent after Jarlath Burns rather incompetent attempt to blame unionist politicians for being “almost duplicitous“ followed by him shutting up rather than putting up with a name.
The timing of Bradley’s interjection is interesting but is of course related to the fact that the government is publicly consulting on the paper. His comments probably have a number of purposes: firstly Bradley is no doubt a bit annoyed that his £12,000 idea has been so comprehensively rubbished with even the government dropping it extremely quickly. To see practically the whole of Northern Irish society lining up to describe the idea as foolish and having even his co chair Lord Eames accept that the idea was folly must be pretty galling. In addition, however, I have argued from the beginning that the £12,000 payment was (and is) so offensive that it may well have been a carapace to defend the rest of the report: that carapace was very rapidly blown off by the sheer weight of opprobrium it engendered. The removal of the £12,000 allows people to concentrate more on the other equally morally repugnant concepts in the report.
Just to recap on two of them:
Remember that the Legacy Commission would …itself make recommendations on how a line might be drawn at the end of its five year mandate so that Northern Ireland may best move to a shared future. fairly obviously although Eames Bradley will not admit to it there is a clear timetable for an amnesty after a suitable period of procrastination; as I noted at the time it is called believable deny-ability
Another part of the report which will not doubt be exposed to attack is its suggestion that the proposals of the Quigley Hamilton working group on released terrorists be given the force of law. To quote part of Quigley Hamilton 2.6…a conviction arising from the conflict should not bar an applicant from obtaining employment, facilities, and goods or services unless that conviction is manifestly incompatible with the job, facility or service in question. The onus of demonstrating incompatibility would, in the view of the group, rest with whoever was alleging it and the seriousness of the offence would not, per se constitute adequate grounds
The report where an applicant is ruled out of consideration at any stage he/she should be given the opportunity to outline his/her perspective before a final decision is taken.”
All of these proposals are of course unacceptable to the vast majority of people here. However, I submit that the £12,000 (the Ford Focus) was designed in part to take the heat so that the rest of the document could go through relatively unscathed. Bradley miscalculated and in actual fact so appalling was the reaction to the Ford Focus of money that it was dropped very quickly. That helps expose the rest of the report and Bradley at any rate seems to understand that it will be just as unacceptable as the £12,000. Hence trying to move the debate back to the money may well be an attempt by Bradley to force people back to fighting about the money in order to reduce the attacks the other parts of the report which although less overtly obscene are in actual fact more dangerous and just as immoral.
Of course the noble Lord’s view on his co chair’s manoeuvring would be very interesting. Above I described Eames as maybe a Lundy. Cushy Glenn has recently suggested that Lundy after his actions later served bravely though I cannot find an online reference to this. Lord Eames of course could now come out and reaffirm his new view that the £12,000 was a bad idea. Indeed he could then go on to explain to us why the group ignored most of the evidence it received and explain how it managed to come up with the reviled document. Many feel that Bradley was the main instigator of the report and Eames could come out and confirm this; accept his own personal responsibility; apologise for the whole debacle and call for the report to be binned. If he did all that then actually he might find that he would again be acceptable to the reasonable people of Northern Ireland.