Woodward bombshell on Troubles legacy

The unlikely figure of Shaun Woodward has blown apart the smooth surface of Westminster consensus by launching an attack on his successor for dilatoriness in tackling the legacy of the Troubles. In a long and impassioned speech in a debate on the Saville report, Woodward accused Secretary of State Owen Paterson of stalling a decision on a public inquiry into the Finucane murder and dealing with other major incidents like Claudy, Omagh and Ballymurphy.

” We can’t say to the loved ones of Ballymurphy, Omagh and Claudy that there are no mechanism for seeking justice,” he said.

Paterson was wrong if he thought the historic enquiries team was the right mechanism or had the right resources for dealing with outstanding major complex cases, although it had won 80% approval from victim’s families.

It was “rash and “a risk to the peace process” to say there should be no further open ended inquiries and leave nothing in their place.

Woodward warned Paterson: ” You must avoid suspicions about your motives.” He himself failed to specify an alternative to public inquiries bur the answer might be found in the Eames/Bradley report despite the rejection of recognition payments.

Westminster retained responsibility for inquiries and it could not simply be handed over entirely to the Executive..

Paul Murphy Woodward’s predecessor insisted the cost should not be an obstacle as “Northern Ireland remains a special case.” In an intervention the Foyle MP Mark Durkan identified “Ballymurphy, Springhill and Shankill ” as further inquiry cases “as they all involved the Parachute Regiment.”

Woodward’s attack will probably have taken the government by surprise as they appeared to believe that their apparently minimalist approach to the past was gaining ground. Their Labour predecessors have disabused them of that impression even though the coalition may well ask them in turn: “Why didn’t you all this when you were in power?” The likely answer: ” we were waiting for Saville” doesn’t seem altogether satisfactory. The debate was still continuing at 4 pm


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  • joeCanuck

    What a brass neck that guy has. He should be given some sort of award.

  • White Horse

    He must have suffered a lot of Tory ridicule for his change of path to Labour.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Not a very convincing display from Woodward.
    But it sadly fits into a pattern of Labour spokespersons saying things in Opposition that they did not say and would not say in Government.
    Very poor form

  • erewhon

    There are strange sayings from high profile members of the UK establishment. Look at 1 Nov 2010 : Column 1538 record of Lord James of Blackheath, conservative life peer.


    “I have had one of the biggest experiences in the laundering of terrorist money and funny money that anyone has had in the City. I have handled billions of pounds of terrorist money.

    Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Where did it go to?

    Lord James of Blackheath: Not into my pocket. My biggest terrorist client was the IRA and I am pleased to say that I managed to write off more than £1 billion of its money.”

    Any pointers to what he is talking about or is this some kind of peer fantasy?

  • pippakin

    How nice to know a member of Labour (is he still parading around as a socialist?) has a use for the north and what a pity it is for his own ends. If I recall correctly the ahem, honourable member? was in no great rush when it was his responsibility.

  • joeCanuck

    Not only in no rush. Didn’t his party pass an Act that effectively would make any enquiry that the government didn’t like become simply a charade? Enshrining the spirit of Widgery into the so-called legal canon.

  • pippakin


    Oh yes, but that was not him. He was not important enough, that was Bliar outlying Gerry!

  • Cynic

    More inquiries? Like Saville? Is the Blessed Shaun on a retainer from lawyers?

    And our former absentee SOS who allowed the process (TM) to drift into crisis attacks the current SOS for being dilatory?

  • Erewhon

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaA-5_IjkeE is the Lord James speech. The IRA funds reference comes at the 1:40 point.

  • joeCanuck

    I suspect dotage, erewhon. And it sounds like he is going to be taken for a ride by some Nigerian folks.