CoI Gazette denounces attempt to resurrect Eames Bradley

Gladys had a blog on Sunday Sequence’s interview with two former members of the Consultative Group on the Past: Denis Bradley and Rev. Lesley Carroll in which they called for Eames Bradley to be looked at again. My comments on Eames Bradley are posted below. It seems, however, that Gladys and myself are not the only ones to have picked up on the potential appearance of an undead Eames Bradley. The editorial in this weeks Church of Ireland Gazette will focus on Mary Travers’s murder and Eames Bradley. It is fairly short so I will reproduce it in full:

The recent appointment of Mary McArdle as a special adviser at Stormont was insensitive not only because she had a part in the 1984 murder of the 23-year-old Mary Travers but also because Mary Travers was so brutally attacked coming with her parents, precisely, from Mass. The sanctity of the moment at which her young life was so cruelly taken only gives the sin yet more depth. Mary McArdle has now described the killing of Mary Travers as a tragic mistake and has said that she regrets that it happened, yet her appointment has highlighted again the issue of coming to terms with the past in Northern Ireland.

Last Sunday, Denis Bradley and the Revd Lesley Carroll – of the former Consultative Group on the Past (CGP) – appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Sequence programme. Lesley Carroll said that society had let the CGP’s report “sit there” and plainly stated that if she were doing the CGP report again, she would not do anything differently. For his part, Mr Bradley said that increasingly people were now discussing the subject in a more “rational” manner.

Contrary to Lesley Carroll’s view, society has not simply shelved the CGP report. It has rejected it. Nor was she correct to indicate that the CGP report has yet to be properly debated and that the debate which did take place was on the recognition payment proposal rather than the whole of the report. In fact, the CGP report has been considered very carefully indeed, in its totality, by political parties, Churches and individual groups and people. The Northern Ireland Office ran a whole public consultation on it, and has published the results. Then again, for Mr Bradley to suggest that people had not been sufficiently rational in their consideration of the CGP report is simply an affront to the public. Both former CGP members came across on the programme rather as spoilt children who had not got their way. They should have paid more attention to the responses to the NIO’s consultation on the CGP’s recommendations and, indeed, to the ‘Advice to Government’ of the Commission for Victims and Survivors in its Dealing with the Past document, upon which we commented very favourably in our issue of 9th July last year.

It is good that former terrorists have left violence behind and have embraced the peace process and democracy. Yet they should never expect people in the rest of society, who have been very magnanimous towards them, to accept that there was ever anything right, reasonable or justified about their acts of terror. We must strive for a reconciled and shared future that is not based on a disingenuous re-writing of history but on the values of decency, democracy and genuine concern for the welfare of every person.

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  • pippakin

    Apart from the strange idea that being murdered leaving church is somehow worse than being murdered any where else I totally agreed with the post.

  • I think that the notion that Eames-Bradley is shelved…..parked…….or any other eupenism needs to be tackled head on.
    It has been REJECTED.
    Trying to breathe life into it is an insult.

  • granni trixie

    Denis Bradley keeps saying that people are not yet “mature” enough to do the Eames Bradley thing. ,,,I find this very annoying.

    Lesley Carroll for whom I have the greatest respect seems to have a weak spot where the report which she helped produce is concerned. Heard her give a talk after it came out in Fitzroy and she sounded as she did on Sun. Sequence,not prepared to conceed an inch that parts of it were ill conceived or that with hindsight many reasonable ideas were scuppered by the money proposal.

    Suspect that the Eames part of E-B now gets this …you do not hear him defending it.What a way to end a career.

  • I find this very annoying.

    You’re not the only one Granni. Holier than thou doesn’t sit well with most people.

  • Yes the “not mature enough” and “not a moral option” line is not just annoying..its patronising at best and insulting at worst.
    There can be no real debate if the Conflict Resoluionists and their apologists believe they are more inteligent, more mature and more moral than those who disagree.

    How many threads have we now had along these lines?
    How many more?
    Yet I suspect there is “something” going on……that the phone lines and emails between Governments and Conflict Resolutionists are actually intensifying.
    The Church of Ireland Gazette seems to be distancing itself…..probably sending out a message beyond its actual readership and membership that thru Eames they were burned and made to look absurd.
    Maybe there will be four Churchmen and women (actually I think it very likely that the Catholic Church would nominate a nun) for any “Shadow” Commission.
    But the campaign for an International element seems a bit bizarre (Bill Clinton?) but surely we need to keep this nonsense in British and Irish hands. Id be disturbed if there were any foreigners on it………hopefully Denis Bradley will concede that we are now “mature enough” to do without Canadian generals, Australian judges and Finnish Prime Ministers.
    But the bottom line is MONEY.
    People will be enriched by it.
    Sensible people and its good to see the wide ranging opposition to it on Slugger…….will the undemocratic Conflict Resolutionists take heed?
    No of course not.
    They are after all smarter, more mature and more moral than the rest of us.

  • Mr Crumlin

    And so the Crusade continues ….

    The past – it won’t be wished away you know.

  • pippakin

    Mr Crumlin

    No the past won’t be wished away and it won’t be brushed under the carpet to be rewritten by vested interests.

  • Mr Crumlin


    you cant have it both ways – you either address all the issues in a coherent way or you don’t. I believe the current approach is unbalanced and quite frankly dangerous.

    Vested interests? Surely we all have a vested interest in this.

  • Mr Crumlin
  • pippakin

    Mr Crumlin

    What is this coherent way, since when have those opposed to Eames Bradley been incoherent?

    The best way to heal the past is to give the peace time, conflict resolution does not do that it rewrites, for a fee, the history of what happened in a way that will diminish the suffering of some and the guilt of others.

    It is not accdeptable,

  • Rory Carr

    I do so wish that people would stop using this inane assertion that, “The past just refuses to go away.” Quite apart from the nonsensical idea that a abstract concept such as ‘the past’ can have any volition over anything, when we actually consider the human experience of time as past, present and future then the only portion that never leaves, is ever-present ( oh, all right then, that “refuses to go away”) is. as the name implies, the present.

    The past is ever irretrieveably gone, the future is ever but a uncatchable shadow. The best thing we can do with the past is to recognise it for the chimera that it is and let it be that its rumblings do not disturb our present peace.

  • tacapall

    Whilst the past is foremost in many minds in the political arena especially those who have a vested interest in claiming monolopy as the victims, Unionists are unable to accept that members of the security forces acted in ways no different than those who they call terrorists, they refuse to believe that the definition of terrorism does not mean, just the actions of those who you believe are the enemy, it covers all actions including those of the security forces be the RUC British army etc. Hypocrites.

  • frank82

    “It is good that former terrorists have left violence behind and have embraced the peace process and democracy. Yet they should never expect people in the rest of society, who have been very magnanimous towards them, to accept that there was ever anything right, reasonable or justified about their acts of terror. We must strive for a reconciled and shared future that is not based on a disingenuous re-writing of history but on the values of decency, democracy and genuine concern for the welfare of every person.”

    Looking at the final paragraph quoted, there is not a lot that I would disagree with. I just don’t think that the Eames Bradley report was based on a disingenuous re-writing of history. I think some posters are guilty of their own re-writing of history. How did an organisation that was effectively finished as a paramilitary outfit gain sufficient support from the Nationalist community to take on the British Army and the Northern Irish state? How did an Army initially welcomed as a protective force by the Catholic community become an oppressive force? Why were mainstream Unionists unwilling to share power with moderate Nationalists? None of this justifies the IRA campaign of violence, but it does explain the context. To ignore that context is a re-writing of history. We have moved on from a ‘Never, Never, Never’ mentality. You may not like Sinn Fein in government, but the DUP and the Ulster Unionists signed up to the GF/StA agreement. The IRA have gone away. We need to look to the future and celebrate the achievement of the peace process. The principle of consent is enshrined and both communities have equal status.

    Eames Bradley may be dead, but their main aims are still worth pursuing.

    – helping society towards a shared and reconciled future, through a process of engagement with community issues arising from the conflict;
    – reviewing and investigating historical cases;
    – conducting a process of information recovery;
    – examining linked or thematic cases emerging from the conflict.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Rory – you may not like the phrase but it is true. Today we have so many various ways of looking into historic cases that it boggles the mind.

    We have HET, Criminal Cases Review, Police Ombudsman, public inquiries, victims commission, coroners, and now even the Attorney General is getting involved with the Slane case.

    You just have to look at the headlines of the past few weeks to see how the legacy of the troubles could (and I would argue will) cause serious damage to the political process. I think some ‘vested interests’, including the editor of the Gazette, would be quite happy to see that happen – but the recent election has shown that the people in this part of Ireland support the current arrangements and to ignore something that could bring that system down is dangerous.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Pippakin – the only thing that is coherent with those who oppose Eames Bradley is that they oppose Eames Bradley.

    How would you deal with the past?

  • pippakin

    Mr Crumlin

    I don’t think I would ‘deal with it, it happened and now its done.

    People who lost loved ones or were maimed should be treated as individuals and encouraged to seek help within existing services.

    Those who committed crimes whichever side they were on and regardless of their uniform or lack of, should if the evidence becomes available be charged, that the sentence would be minimal is neither here nor there its an acknowledgement of guilt,. Amnesty should not say a crime didn’t happen it should say the crime is acknowledged.

    What I would not do is create a new level of parasitic ‘services’, people who rely on injury of one type or another for their livelihood are unlikely to ever decide their ‘services’ are no longer required.

  • Independent Ulster


    You say,

    “The IRA have gone away.”

    One of the IRAs has gone away, the others are still here and growing.

    The moral ambivalence to PIRA displayed my most Nationalists as reflected by their tendency to vote SF underlines the need for SF/IRA to agree that their campaign was wrong.

    The statements from SF regarding the so called dissidents suggests that they oppose the dissidents only because they have zero chance of success therefore they are ‘traitors’. In Mc Guinness’s terms Traitors, not because of their actions but because they are interrupting ‘Mainstream’ republicans’ project.

    There is no point in any attempts at ‘truth recovery’, which is any way influenced by SF, until it is clear that SF admits its terrorist campaign was wrong. There is little chance of that now as they are sitting pretty in government backed by a majority of Nationalists.

    Mr Crumlin,

    As I asked you on Turgon’s other blog, do you agree that the terrorist campaign of the PIRA was totally without justification? The answer to that will put your desire for ‘truth recovery’ into context.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Ind Ulster

    I fear we are slipping into whataboutery!

    I have never hidden that I am a SF supporter and have been for some time – so I do not believe the PIRA campaign was without justification BUT I do believe it went on far too long and descended into tactics that cannot be justified. For those actions I also believe the IRA must take part in any truth recovery process. I believe the Protestant border communities have as much right to grill the IRA about ethnic cleansing in those areas as I have about grilling MI5/RUC/FRU/Downing St about their policy of collusion.

    So Im afraid I dont fit neatly into the ‘IRA were justifiied in every thing they did’ – conflicts cannot be so neatly packaged.

    The only way the IRA, as an organisation, will be held accountable for those actions is through a body established for that very reason.

    Here’s a question for you – do you believe the policies of successive unionist govts up to the late 1960s made civil disturbances, and ultimately violence, inevitable?

  • Rory Carr

    I was about to response to Independent Ulster’s latest post with, “Moral ambivalence, my arse!” but Mr Crumlin has neatly pre-empted me and, in a rather calmer and more courteous manner, asked Independent Ulster to reflect upon the ‘moral ambivalence’ (read:sectarian malfeasance) of the Unionist population that allowed for the rise of the original UVF’s armed response to Home Rule, the subsequent division of Ireland (and Ulster) for purely sectarian reasons and the establishment and maintainence of the repressive anti-Catholic Stormont regime whose brutal actions in response to calls for Civil Rights fostered the growth of the dormant IRA.

    Oh, and the small matter of tacit approval of the Loyalist murder gangs who traded on the readily accepted (within Unionism at large) raison d’etre that the best way to ‘defend Ulster’ (i.e. maintain the sectarian status quo) was to murder as many innocent Catholics as possible, in which activity they were aided and abetted by the RUC, the UDR and the Dirty Brigades of H.M. Intelligence Services.

    I was right the first time – “Moral ambivalence, my arse !”

    I look forward to Independent Ulster’s measured response.

  • Independent Ulster

    Mr Crumlin,

    You say,

    ‘Here’s a question for you – do you believe the policies of successive unionist govts up to the late 1960s made civil disturbances, and ultimately violence, inevitable?’

    Inevitable perhaps given that there was a tendency amongst nationalists to reach for a gun in a state they never accepted but that does not mean it was in any way justified.

    I am not sure someone who could not get a council house as easily as someone else would be happy their circumstances would be used to justify Mary Travers getting murdered outside mass. Or equally would feel their ’cause ‘justifed those who could get council houses easier than them being blown apart at Ennniskillen.

    In relation to Martin Mc Guinnes do you agree that his and SFs oppostion to dissident violence is based simply on his analysis that it wont work, rather than any moral objections?

    Truth recovery which involves those attempting to distort it is a complete nonsense.

    Rory Carr,

    I have just been accused of ‘whataboutery’ by Mr Crumlin above (not sure where he go that from) and your reply to my point about “Moral ambivalence” by Nationalists is to list what you see as examples of ‘whataboutery’ by Unionists.

    Now, we can come to that, but would it not be better to deal with the issue under discussion first before launching in to a clear example of ‘whataboutery’.

    While your at it, perhaps you might also answer the question posed by me to Mr Crumlin above regarding Mc Guinness.

    This is relevant to the debate on ‘truth recovery’ as it informs us of the intentions and calibre of the people (SF) who will seek to influence its design.

  • tacapall

    Mary O’Rawe, Senior Lecturer, Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster

    “In the Northern Ireland context, as in others, those who cautioned the need to seek to understand the motivation behind acts of terrorism were dismissed as witting or
    unwitting apologists for evil to be ignored or vilified. Those who sought to reveal state wrongdoing, were at best seen as mealy-mouthed and only likely to give succourto terrorists who were riding roughshod over the human rights of the rest of us. Where criticism of repressive government strategies did happen, then as now, – the response was denial and vilification of the critics”. PUBLIC STATEMENT 22-01-07 FINAL VERSION

    33.11 The effect of that dysfunction was that, whilst undoubtedly Special Branch officers were effective in preventing bombings and shootings and other attacks, some informants were able to continue to engage in terrorist activities including murders without the Criminal Investigation Department having the ability to deal with them for some of those offences.

    33.12 On occasions this also resulted in crimes being committed by informants with the prior knowledge of Special Branch officers. Informants engaged in such crimes were not subject to any of thecontrols inherent in the system for the use of Participating Informants devised by the Home Office for use by all police forces. On occasion, despite the fact that they had not given informants Participating Informant status, police nevertheless watched as serious terrorist crimes were committed by their informants.

    11. The attempted murders of Intended Victim One, Intended Victim Two, Intended Victim Three and Intended Victim Four, 1989-1991
    12. The attempted murder of Intended Victim Five, 1992
    13. The murder of Ms Sharon McKenna, 1993
    14. The murder of Mr Sean McParland, 1994
    15. The murders of Mr Gary Convie and Mr Eamon Fox, 1994
    16. The murder of Mr Gerald Brady and associated incidents, 1994
    17. The murder of Mr Thomas Sheppard, 1996
    18. The murder of Mr John Harbinson, 1997
    19. The murder of Mr Thomas English, 2000
    20. The attempted murders of Intended Victims Six and Seven, in 1992 and 1997
    21. The attempted murders of Intended Victim Eight
    22. The attempted murder of Intended Victims Nine and Ten
    23. CID searches blocked by Special Branch, 1997
    24. Planned attack and attack in the Republic of Ireland, 1996 and 1997
    25. Targeting of a Republican, 1994
    26. Arson attack and other crimes, 1997
    27. Drug Dealing in North Belfast and Larne
    28. “Punishment” shootings and attacks
    29. Possession of Information Likely to be of use to terrorists.

    We are all victims to this type of State sponsored terrorism but there are those among us who refuse to aknowledge that any wrong doing was committed.

    Mr Travers and a retired special Branch officer both alleged that RUC Special branch knew in advance of the attempt on Mr travers life but for whatever purpose allowed those who murdered Mary Travers and attempted to murder Mr Travers and his wife and daughter to go ahead as planned no one, except those who can justify such actions can turn a blind eye to these accusations and activities. Untill there is an honest acceptance that all sides acted in ways which cannot be justified then we will go around in circles forever without addressing the issue of victim and perpetrator.

  • frank82

    Independent Ulster,

    By and large, there is no moral ambivalence within the Nationalist community about the actions of PIRA. Their actions are either (1) supported, (2) supported with provisos or (3) condemned. This has no bearing on people’s decision to vote for Sinn Fein. They recognise that Sinn Fein, with considerable encouragement from John Hume, realised that the campaign of violence by PIRA was a deterrent to their aspiration for an United Ireland. You may not like this, but that is the reality. If you want to demonise those Nationalists who vote for Sinn Fein, go ahead, but it is akin to the comments of Tom Elliott and his references to the ‘scum’ of Sinn Fein. Tom Elliott is a good man, who is a straight talker, but he is not the future of Unionism.

    You will not get Sinn Fein to admit that PIRA’s campaign was wrong, because they do not believe that it was wrong. Privately, individuals may regret their involvement and might recognise that it did not advance their objectives. But that is as far as it will go.

    The GFA was endorsed by a majority of people on the island of Ireland, albeit that Unionists were much more ambivalent about it than Nationalists. Sinn Fein have always used their vote in the 1918 election as justification for an United Ireland – i.e. the will of the people. In their view, the vote in 1998 supercedes the 1918 election vote and gives them a new mandate. According to Sinn Fein/Martin McGuinness, the dissidents are ‘traitors’ because they are contravening the will of the ‘Irish’ people.

    I haven’t worked out Sinn Fein’s game. On the surface they are attempting to engage with Unionists (Martina Anderson etc), but it hasn’t been successful, so I don’t imagine how they think they will persuade the Unionist community to buy into their vision of a new Ireland. And that’s without considering the economic situation in the Republic of Ireland. We’re a lot way from a vote for a United Ireland. Look at the situation in Scotland. SNP have a majority, yet they are not considering a referendum until the end of this parliament. Mind you, the Scottish Parliament has only been functioning since 1998!

    Six things to consider:
    Scottish Independence
    The demise of the Euro
    The ascent of Charles to the throne, becoming Defender of all Faiths
    The decline of religion
    Sinn Fein in government in the Republic of Ireland

    Will they have any impact on our wee bit of ground?

  • Whether its Sunday Sequence, Church of Ireland Gazette or the main item on tonights UTV News, there is a certain momentum behind the Truth Commission “big idea”.
    A ANC man was in Belfast today, interviewed by Brian Rowen and walking along the Falls Road with Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin MLA..
    A spokesperson for WAVE was available for interview.
    So too was a spokesperson for Relatives for Justice (a body which is concerned with victims of the State. It is financed to the tune of £1.2 MILLION (!) by the EU and British Governments.

    The message from both groups seemed to be that some victims want it and some dont. They certainly seemed willing to be persuaded.
    A spokesperson (kieran McAvoy) for Healing Through Remembering (financed to £10,000 by British taxpayer) was predictably in favour of it all. He is an academic who has worked in this field (what field is that exactly?) argued on moral(again!) grounds it was necessary as “some” victims needed it….on political grounds (to make us more “stable”) and on pragmatic grounds that the present situation of “Enquiry” let paramilitary violence off the hook.

    Yet the UTV Report by I think Brian Rowen opened with the unchallenged assertion that a Truth Commission “is actively back on the agenda”.
    Is it?
    Who put it there?
    Can we assume that ANC man anda SF MLA and ex-prisoner walking down the Falls Road for Rowens TV camera is not entirely a coincidence.
    Can we assume that the Media are co-operating in getting it on to the agenda… soften up the population for an announcement….on for example the issue of amnesty (which appears the only way that the IRA can get itself involved)….amnesty the ANC man declared was an important element.
    Are the academics, churchmen/women, conflict resolutionists, journalists and politicians already chosen (at a price)for the task by the British and Irish Govts.
    The Conflict Resolution Gravy Train seems to building up some steam.

  • By the way take a look at the list of the “Victims Groups” on the CAIN website. The number is truly staggering as is the funding.
    The figures seem to come from a 2007 Parliamentary Question.