Do we need a ‘statute of limitation’ for past injustices?

There’s an interesting argument from Matt over at the Wardman Wire… In effect he argues that a statute of limitations should apply to the killings of Bloody Sunday (and, by implication, if I read him correctly, in the words of Col Wilford, Bloody everything the IRA have ever touched?). Not for political expediency. In fact for the very opposite reason: testimony, and in particular eyewitness testimony is likely to be highly unreliable at this remove from the events involved. So, he quotes Max Hastings:

…explaining why he refused to give evidence to the Saville Enquiry, after denouncing Widgery as a cover-up:

“I gave evidence to Widgery, but then when Saville came along I was asked to give evidence to Saville and I refused. They said why wouldn’t I do it, and I said that after all these years my memory is hopeless. I don’t remember exactly what happened that day. They then sent me a copy of my Widgery evidence, and I said … well, this proves my point … I’m sure what I said to Widgery at the time was true, but I’ve completely forgotten all the things I said I’d seen, and if I’d given evidence to Saville then I’d just have been parrotting everything I’d told widgery all those years before.

And it is absurd, it seems to me … I opposed the War Crimes Trials of old World War 2 criminals for the same reason … after 38 years it is ludicrous to suppose that a huge number of people, all with their own agendas, can be relied on to get it right.”

Interesting idea. And one not entirely incompatible with that which Peter Robinson shared with Eamonn Mallie last night…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty