The DUP should stop sniping at Saville

Liam Clarke adds to the Slugger case for public disclosure of HET files and backs it up with the powerful example of the battle of St Matthew’s.

The HET has the raw data to answer most of the questions of the troubles; if not to the level of proof required for prosecution, then at least to a level useful in the writing of history. They hold the records of every police investigation, as well as intelligence reports and the findings of bodies like the Stevens and Stalker inquires. Everything is collated on databases and can be cross referenced to find patterns in the killings.

There are two problems with the HET. The first is that it is under resourced with just £32 million to examine 3,269 deaths. The second is that its findings are not made generally available. They are handed to the families of the dead who then decide whether to make some, all or none of the contents public.

This is not a good return for society as a whole. There is a need for more resources to be given to the HET. We need a panel of historians and other experts, including victims representatives, to review the reports and data. Then they can be drawn together into as full an account of our troubles history as is possible within the lifetime of those affected.

While recognising the dangers of one sided justice, politicians like Sammy Wilson would do better to make affordable justice a common cause and drop the mean spirited and carping tone that is so offensive to Catholics ( sic) and therefore counterproductive to unionists.  DUP members are playing a bad round of the old zero sum game. Nationalist Derry’s gain is seen as unionism’s loss, added to which is fear of further gains. Justice for unionists will never be won this way.

The most common reaction I have had from ordinary unionists is the disgust at the attention, resources and political support which has been given to the investigation of this one tragic incident, whilst the murders by the IRA of 211 policemen, 18 soldiers at Warrenpoint and hundreds of civilians, are still unresolved and in some cases have received the most cursory investigation. The question asked is what is so special about the cases in Londonderry that £200m can be spent investigating them whilst others are ignored.

 But others aren’t “ignored,” Sammy, they’re just not getting the Saville treatment – and you support that, you say.  So what exactly is your point?   Just under half the backlog has been cleared. We might well ask why there have been only two loyalist prosecutions and no republican. The answers lie in the files.

Why doesn’t this man of government drop the whingeing and adopt the positive solution above, to call for  comprehensive HET disclosure?  Is there a clue in his use of the word ” attention?”  Is he unable to stand it when others  get noticed and he has to chip in with something, anything, even to share with us defiantly that  he has no intention of reading the report?


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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “Liam Clarke adds to the Slugger case…….”
    Slugger has a case? An editorial line?
    I happily agree with the “Slugger case” in this instance.
    And even more happy that Slugger admits to being a “player”.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Not much of an endorsement for the investigative capabilitiy of the RUC to which Wilson gave his unconditional support over the years, is it ?

    The reaction to Saville from some unionist politicians has been cheap, demagogic and dishonest. Decent UK citizens everywhere should have celebrated Saville as a good day within the state for democracy, accountability and a long delayed affirmation of the human rights of its citizens.

  • Sam Flanagan

    Is this a theme you intend to develope on an ongoing basis? If you are, it would be useful if you could propose names of “academics,” “historians” and “journalists” whom you feel would be broadly acceptable to the general population?

    For instance would you be happy with Liam Clarke, Alan Murray or even Martin Dillon involved in such an intended project?
    Please do not mention Eames or Bradley or any other character of that nefarious brood.

    By the way, I do not think it is a coincidence you and Liam Clarke just happening to be promoting a similar line at the moment, though feel free to prove me wrong.

  • Cynic

    “Just under half the backlog has been cleared. We might well ask why there have been only two loyalist prosecutions and no republican. The answers lie in the files.”

    This is so opaque I haven’t a clue what you are getting at.

  • Cynic

    “Not much of an endorsement for the investigative capabilitiy of the RUC”

    HET has spent £30 m for 3 prosecutions – £10m per prosecution. How much would the RUC have delivered if it had been given the extra resources that HET has?

  • Cynic

    “The HET has the raw data to answer most of the questions of the troubles; if not to the level of proof required for prosecution, then at least to a level useful in the writing of history”

    Now that Liam is at a loose end is he perchance morphing into an historian?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont think the DUP are actually “sniping” at Saville.
    In military parlance, they have been dislodged from their position and in retreat are firing token desultory shots.
    As likely to hit each other than hit anybody else.
    The High Ground has been taken.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Journalists are exactly the wrong people to be involved. They have served us badly for 40 years, relying on press briefings and handing out awards to each other on an annual basis.
    They “reported” the facts.
    They cant be allowed to “report” the same facts again now that there are new Paymasters.

  • Ardmhacha

    “How much would the RUC have delivered if it had been given the extra resources that HET has?”
    Probably not a lot, the problem with most investigations was that the RUC neither cared or where trying to cover them up for some people so mis-handled the investigations.

  • VI Lurgan

    I support the call for putting evidence of HET into public domain. Lets get all the washing out there and just se how dirty it is. Once we have looked at it for a while, politicans have made what political capital they want out of it, families have had a chance to digest and cope with its ‘facts’ or otherwise, then time will ensure that it will lose some of its relevance.

  • Nunoftheabove

    You tell me Cynic, and while you’re at it perhaps comment more generally on the taxpayer bang for buck that the RUC provided over the years.

  • Brian Walker

    No need to put up names for a panel yet, Sam, fitz etc. Rules of engagement are needed first. Don’t let’s get ahead of ourselves.

  • madraj55

    FJH. In fact Campbell predictably enough went further than others in the DUP, by actually saying on Spotlight, that Saville was an attempt at rewriting history. naturally he preferred Widgery verdict because being the untreated bigot he is, he has zero sympathy with the victims because they’re Catholic. The others grudgingly accepted it without going as far as explicitly saying so. Well, they don’t don’t want to risk losing votes, Do they?

  • Sam Flanagan

    I am sure you are busy drawing up a “tentative” Rules of engagement discussion article at this very minute.

    At the moment there is nothing to stop the realtives who have HET details getting in touch with a number of journalists to highlight any perceived grievances.

    The recent meeting in East Belfast was a worthwhile exercise and is certainly something that should be used in other areas.

    Just by the way, I am extremely sceptical that the HET has been given access to ALL the Steven inquiry material.

    I do hope you continue with this theme, there are so many areas which can be highlighted as the issue is teased out.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh yes……but thats not “sniping”.
    Sniping is focussed. Targetted.
    He is just firing off a few random shots while in full retreat and ……only hitting his own foot in the process.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Can we at least agree that Journalists have no place in it.

  • Brian Walker

    Sam, It’s plainly not satisfactory to leave it all up to relatives or pressure groups like the Finucane centre. Government holds the files so governmenrt must give a lead and be pressed to do so. Before that, we need to hold an intelligent debate on the way ahead post Saville that doesn’t get impaled on recognition payments or excessive whataboutery. .It will be a test of maturity all round to see if such a debate can be held.

  • I think the way ahead is fairly clear – full disclosure of everything. The case needs to be made for retention – what is the argument for witholding information? Either no-one has a selfish or strategic interest in non-disclosure, or someone is seeking an unfair advantage (and even ‘national security’, ‘operational reasons’ etc as responses for the 1970s, 1980s or even 1990s doesn’t really feel tenable in 2010).

  • andnowwhat

    On Fridays Any Questions, Edwina Curry sugested the model that they used when Germany was reunited ie. they threw open all files and people were free to find out what information was held on them etc.

    I know it’s different in our situation but its something to look at.

  • Sam Flanagan

    You may find it interesting to read a latest news story on UTV site. “RUC stress officers could name informers.”

    That case could prove to be quite a “test of maturity” don`t you think? lol

  • Peter McMorran

    The Unionist Paradox at work. Ulster during the troubles, we are led to believe, was a fair and decent democracy. with all those suspected of engaging in criminal activity subject to the due process of law.

    The killings on Bloody Sunday were not deemed to be a criminal matter and those that carried out said killings were never subjected to the due process of law. That is what makes said killings different from all of the other murders the Unionists talk about, and that is also why there was the need for a Saville enquiry.

    Time for the Unionists to take their heads out of the sands and to deal with the facts

  • Compare the excellent R.U.C. clearance rates with the piss poor PSNI ones to see what they provided.

  • That would be the covering up for those provo agents then?

  • What about all the nationalist terrorists files?

  • madraj55

    Peter McMorran. It’s been pointed out many times to the Campbell’s, Donaldsons and frazers etc [including by Blair,] that The Bloody Sunday killings needed an Inquiry because it was the work of the State, but still they harp on about ‘why are there no inquiries into Enniskillen, Bloody Friday etc, and still they keep on regardless. It can only be that they understood this along, but whingeing on about it helps with getting the votes of the ignorant out.

  • madraj55

    Brian Walker. Your last point directed at Wilson is well targetted. The ‘attention’ he mentions might be a Freudian slip on Sammy’s part. Liam Clarke, who usually gives advice to Unionists [and DUP in particular] as a friend, but they just don’t listen to him. Peter Robinson is the only one of them so far speaking out on Saville, gave a true reading of the relevance, while the other four or five who have commented so far, seem unable to rise above their bitterness and envy that Unionists will never run Gregory’s native city again. This is eating Campbell up for decades.
    The DUP succeeds only in making them look mean, and they know this, but they can’t snap out of it.