Door now bolted, all inquiries into our past lead to a dead end…

It’s not surprising given the huge shockwaves it sent through Northern Irish society at the time that the Rosemary Nelson murder inquiry‘s (cost £46m) findings and is relatively threadbare in it’s conclusions after all such inquiries have had their teeth unceremoniously plucked out by the Inquiries Act 2005.

At any rate it did not say what many wanted to it say: ie that the RUC somehow colluded in her killing. Eamonn has a lengthy post on it in which he turns over a lot of the hearsay evidence, and concludes that:

How one defines ‘collusion’ is open to interpretation. If the state systemically sits back and leaves an individual exposed to death threats and ultimately to death what does it matter how ‘collusion’ is defined?

Mark Devenport suggests it is the difference between the state actively targeting its own citizens (which should worry us all regardless of politics or background) and failure to act maximally in the protection of those citizens (which should worry us, only if the same conditions persist within the PSNI)…

Eamonn uses the term ‘systematically’ which refers to the fact that at that Nelson was murdered the State did not routinely offer protection to defence lawyers, as it now does. Amnesty International hardens the charge (their full response hereH/T Patrick below) and suggests that the failure to offer/provide protection for Nelson at the time was due to institutional sectarianism.

£46m later, and it is not clear what exactly the inquiry has been able to find out, except that it appears not to have found evidence that the state colluded in Nelson’s murder.

That was yesterday. On the same day, the Taoiseach revealed the British government will not be handing over any files concerning the bombing of Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974. He told the Dail:

In respect of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, as I undertook to the House, I raised this matter with the British Prime Minister, having raised it in London at the previous meeting. We are both of the view that the truth is absolutely essential in all of these cases. The Prime Minister himself raised the question of the inquiry into the Pat Finucane case. There is a recognition that what we do not want is to end up with a whole series of public inquiries. We need to examine how we might deal with this. There were some comments from Deputy Adams last week in respect of other incidents where information might be made available. [emphasis added]

Indeed, that’s in part what the Inquiries Act was intended to do. Only the Northern Irish Police Ombudsman seems to have an appetite for taking claims forward.

Gerry Adams pressed home the reason for pushing for those files:

It is to assess these documents with the aim of assisting in the resolution of these crimes. The British Government admits that it has files which it has not handed over. What possible reason can it have for not handing over files, especially now, as the Taoiseach has asserted, there has been a complete transformation of relationships between Ireland and Britain? What possible reason is there?

And the third piece of related news is the appointment of Mary McArdle – a member of an IRA squad which “ambushed magistrate Tom Travers and his family as they left Mass in south Belfast in April 1984, killing his 22-year-old daughter Mary” – as special advisor to Sinn Fein’s new Culture Minister.

Ms McArdle was the only member of that squad to face any form of legal proceedings…

After which I’m tempted to paraphrase the opening line of the Go Between: “The past is a foreign country: they did things differently there.”

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