Victims and an Amnesty

From the UTV Report last night we are told that a Truth Commission is “actively back on the Agenda”. Its hard not to conclude that we are being softened up to be prepared for an announcement, the draft of which is possibly known in British and Irish Government circles and the Conflict Resolutionists (with a degree of special pleading) who advise them.
Three Victims Groups had spokespersons in the Report……WAVE Trauma Centre, Relatives for Justice and a Mr McAvoy an academic who has been involved in this for some years from an organistaion called Healing Through Remembering.
While the other groups were more guarded, predictably Mr McAvoy was enthusiastic about a Truth Commission on “moral, political and practical” grounds.
But just how many Victims Organisations are there? Well CAIN website lists…..over one hundred, many getting government funding….some of it quite generous.
Now if we accept (and some wont) that 3,900 is a round figure for victims that works out at around one Victim Group for every 39 people. Of course some of these Groups are about “victimhood in general” rather than Troubles related but seeing that the British Military are represented by two or three charities and the RUC by just one or two (I suppose)……..it still seems to me that the ratio of Victim Group to Victim is very high.
With so many voices wanting to be heard and (frankly) funding to be earned, it seems that the advice and opinions from Victims Groups are often contradictory……exactly the kinda contradictory advice that the Conflict Resolutionists “need” to hear to further their own demands for a Truth Commission.
“Victims want” “victims demand” should of course be more properly “SOME victims want”, “SOME victims demand” and it is exactly that contradiction that fuels the Conflict Resolution “industry” which sees a need for it……at a price…to step in and facilitate our healing.
Yet in the list of over one hundred there is no “Healing Thru Amnesia” ……but for a small start up grant and a new laptop I could set up such a group.
Is it not as valid as “Healing through Remembering”.
Yet the lessons of Eames-Bradley seem to have been learned…….well in presentational terms at least.
The present situation……..we are told….is intolerable.
Is it?
The Peace Process is fragile.
No it isnt.
And the Truth will set us free.
But what exactly is the new pitch?
Well Eames-Bradley was a well meaning attempt by the two Governments but we need a person of International repute. In fact we are told the International Community demands it of us. Personally I dont think they care but it sounds like a nice little earner for an ex-Commonwealth Prime Minister or senior UN Official.
The IRA……..which doesnt actually exist is……on board this time.
Why?
Well they want Truth. For an Amnesty.
Now we have had a de facto Amnesty for several years and no ex-gunman (who is on message) is actually going to Jail but an Amnesty regulates things………and effectively a Truth Commission based on we are all victims and all responsible de-criminalises those who were in the armed struggle. They cant be prosecuted.
Of course the perceived inability of some senior Republicans to fess up about their own perceived history undermines this somewhat.
So we are being prepared for an International Commission and an Amnesty.
Well what is in this for Unionists?
Not much of course
There is a fig leaf that the Inquiry procedure (Saville, Rosemary Nelson, McGurks Bar) criticises the security forces to an extent that there is no real scrutiny of terrorist actions. Especially those terrorists who have been on-message since 1998. A fig leaf there for loyalists.
And thats the trade off in tying up the loose ends.
An Amnesty versus Scrutiny of all actions (State and non-State).
Its simples.

,

  • Crubeen

    I wonder if the Boston College business is in the nature of a “persuader” to convince certain people that a Truth process is infinitely preferable to a criminal investigation. In mine humble opionion “back on the agenda” means the thing is decided; the object is to secure support and acceptance and unless there are extremely difficult problems a Truth process will go ahead.

    There never was much in it for Unionists once the Troubles began. It was inevitable that they would be the losers … and we can reflect on what they have lost from Unioist hegemony down to the right to parade where they choose. Along the way has gone Stormont, the ‘B’ Specials, the UDR, the RUC and even the Orange Order which has declined from a bastion of Unionist Supremacy to being the organiser of a family day out.

    There’s nothing in a Truth process for anybody apart from the families of those who have died. Only they benefit and they are entitled to that … they are owed closure. But they must make it a closure so that those who died will rest in peace and the community (many of whom were not born at the time of thse tragedies) can move on.

  • Fair Deal

    Your victims maths is dodgy.

    “And thats the trade off in tying up the loose ends.
    An Amnesty versus Scrutiny of all actions (State and non-State).
    Its simples.”

    No it isn’t and not much of a trade-off although it is a simplistic analysis. Historical inquiry will always focus disproportionately on the state simply because the state keeps records.

  • Rory Carr

    Historical inquiry will always focus disproportionately on the state simply because the state keeps records.

    Fair point, Fair Deal. “And so it bloody well ought,” we might well add.

    Those non-state agents who have transgressed state laws are held accountable by the state, pursued by state law-enforcement agencies (and sometimes summarily executed by them) and gaoled in state prisons. Agents of the state however have transgressed state laws including, most pertinently, those against murder and conspiracy to murder and have been protected by the very agents of the state who were sworn to foil or apprehend them, most often because they themselves were fellow officers. Special circumstances must apply to root out and punish these miscreants and those who ran them. The future security of our citizenry demands no less and I am surprised that those who are usually most vehement in their support for ‘law ‘n’ order’ should think other.

  • Fair Deal

    Rory

    “And so it bloody well ought,” we might well add.”

    A basis of fjh’s proposal is that a truth commission is that it produces some form of balance thus the validity of the point undermines fjh’s idea.

    “Those non-state agents who have transgressed state laws are held accountable by the state, pursued by state law-enforcement agencies ”

    The number of unsolved crimes means that doesn’t hold up and a basis of fjh’s proposal is there will be no pursuit (ie amnesty).

    “(and sometimes summarily executed by them)”

    The state has the power to take a life (under defined circumstances see Article 2.2 ECHR) so your choice of words can be a misrepresentation.

    “and gaoled in state prisons”

    Again the issues of unsolved cases undermines that.

    “Agents of the state however have transgressed state laws”

    You omit those who were members of state forces who were put before the courts, convicted and goaled in state prisons.

    “Special circumstances”

    Another way of saying heirarchy (and one I don’t buy into) and again undermining a basis of fjh’s argument that a commission produces some semblance of balance.

  • “Those non-state agents who have transgressed state laws are held accountable by the state,”

    Rory, as you probably know, some loyalist and republican paramilitaries – the ‘good’ paramilitaries – have had immunity certificates and I suspect this policy is still in place in both the UK and Ireland jurisdictions. Informants and double-agents may have had similar immunity.

    Some paramilitary feathers cannot be ruffled by various agencies of the two states without political clearance and I dare say that, in some cases, London and Dublin agreement may be required.

  • Let me make it clear…….I dont want any kinda Truth Commission. Most people dont.
    People who do have OFTEN a financial interest in it. A Commission will involve not just members buta back up team of lawyers, academics and all kinds of hangers on.
    It is shaping up to be the last big pay day of the Troubles.

    I therefore have no “propsal” except Healing Thru Amnesia. It will cost the Taxpayer surprisingly little and make few people rich.

    I am suggesting that the enthusiasts fora Truth Commission have now regrouped and re-thought their position.
    And that an Amnesty is clearly on the cards (arguably regulating a de facto position) and at a stroke effectively de-criminalising terrorism. Which has long been part of the IRA agenda.
    The perceived trade off is that this will facilitate the IRA making the Commission “worthwhile” by telling the truth about their involvement.
    The “pitch” from Conflict Resolutionists seems to be that this is all good for the “Enquiry” culture which tends to have a focus on “State” action.

  • nightrider

    Christina Rosetti’s poem had the line

    Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.

    Greenflag’s post on the ‘healing day’ thread summed up the fact that no-one is coming back.
    And Robert Fisk’s article on war graves in Saturday’s Independent was poignant, quoting Carl Sandburg:

    Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
    Shovel them under and let me work–
    I am the grass; I cover all.

    And pile them high at Gettysburg
    And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
    Shovel them under and let me work.
    Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
    What place is this?
    Where are we now?

    I am the grass.
    Let me work.

  • tacapall

    “And that an Amnesty is clearly on the cards (arguably regulating a de facto position) and at a stroke effectively de-criminalising terrorism. Which has long been part of the IRA agenda”

    FJH only a fool or a Unionist would believe that line, are you suggesting that an amnesty would only suit IRA members and that they are the only ones pursuing this, maybe you haven’t watched the news these past few days. Regardless of what you believe those members of RUC special branch/British intelligence UVF, UDA, indeed everyone with past involvement in the conflict would certainly welcome a truth commission if it lead to a general amnesty for everyone, lets not pretend its just republicanism.

  • My article lacks topicality because it was overlooked in the Slugger “in tray”.
    I am suggesting that the Truth Commission advocates wont give up.
    That this is their latest “line”.
    That this is “good” for unionists as it puts IRA on the spot.
    And its good for republicans as they are de-criminalised thru an amnesty.
    And good for some of the advocates because lots of money will be involved.

  • tacapall

    FJH the point is you’re totally focussed on the IRA, as if they were the only ones who killed anyone, you dont mention that it puts loyalists or indeed Unionism on the spot or those members of the security forces who aided them. As for lots of money to be made well those people will be the same people who have always profitted from the sufferings of others.

  • Oh I dont think I am the one whose focus is on the IRA.
    Wikipedia helpfully says there were 3,526 deaths within Northern Ireland.
    As 60% were caused by Republicans
    (30% Loyalists and 10% British )….it seems thats where the focus should lie.

  • tacapall

    FJH yes those figures are probably correct at this time and why does it matter ? I think when you take into account the truth that is emerging about security force involvement in not only loyalist killings but also republicans via their agent provocateurs eg those agents in the mount vernon UVF over 15 murders, Freddie Scappaticci over 40 murders and thats just the two cases we know about then there will be The Loughinisland inquiry which im sure will also point the finger at the RUC/British intelligence. Knowing a murder is about to happen and having the power to stop it but letting the person/people die is no different than those who pulled the trigger. Im sure when all is taken into account those figures you give will have to be altered.

  • Fair Deal

    FJH

    My apologies for any misinterpretation on my part

  • None required.

  • carl marks

    im still working out my stand but inthe meantime i would like to thank nightrider for that poem.

  • nightrider

    carl marks
    I knew the (Sandburg) poem from my history teacher, Rosetti was personal, a link can be found.
    Fisk was putting ‘remembrance’ in context:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-we-cant-tell-the-victims-to-leave-mass-graves-in-peace-2299328.html

    Do these corpses matter now that most of their relatives – and their murderers – are dead? Memorialising individual deaths in war started only in 1914. Save for the glorious leaders, the Wellingtons and the Napoleons and the Nelsons, mass graves awaited all who fell in battle. The French dead of Waterloo were shipped off to England to be used as manure on the fields of Lincolnshire. If war is judicial murder, I suppose they suffered a crueller fate than the Chetniks and Cossacks and Ustashe and their families in 1945 whose graves are at least known even if their identities will always be anonymous.
    Where we can, we do now identify the dead. The vast 1914-1918 war cemeteries and the graveyards of the Second World War define our craving for individualism amid barbarism. Yet mass graves lie beneath every crossroads in Europe; from the war of the Spanish succession to the Hundred Years War, to the Franco-Prussian war, from Drogheda to Srebrenica and, of course, to the ash pits of Auschwitz. In 1993, I visited the remains of the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland just after a gale had unearthed trees from the ground. In the roots of one, I found human teeth. Known unto God.

    We all have our personal memories, and indeed ‘truths’. Each as valid as the next persons.
    We do not need (paid) bureaucrats-though they would not describe themselves as such- to tell us how to deal with the past. As best we can, we can only live with the knowledge afforded us, as the Americans say, that’s how the cookie crumbles. I could go on…

  • nightrider

    Oh the Rosetti poem link, as Fisk’s article and Sandburg’s poem can seem bleak
    An antidote

    Christina Rossetti
    Remember

    REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
    Gone far away into the silent land;
    When you can no more hold me by the hand,
    Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
    Remember me when no more day by day
    You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
    Only remember me; you understand
    It will be late to counsel then or pray.
    Yet if you should forget me for a while
    And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
    For if the darkness and corruption leave
    A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
    Better by far you should forget and smile
    Than that you should remember and be sad.

    Well I like it.

  • antamadan

    Are unionists against a truth commision? I don’t get it. Their community suffered much more with attacks on UDR and RUC as well as the even worse and just horrific bombs. ( I would criticise them as supporters of the unfair status-quo mind you, but killing ???). I listened today to another talking history USA podcast. It seemed to understand the unfairness of British rule to nationalists circa 1969 completely, but didn’t give the unionist perspective. I think unionists need to engage a bit more in historical discussion or they might be disadvantaged in historical record. I have belatedly come to the conclusion that unionist threads on troubles events are not meant to generate discussion but are like a religous commemoration, and now even regret giving my thoughts to such threads.

  • Limerick

    “Are unionists against a truth commision? I don’t get it.”

    antamadan,

    Unionists recognise that any such commission would be entirely one sided as all the evidence points to the fact that the terrorists involved here either refuse to discuss what they did, or else lie about it. The security forces on the other hand would be duty bound to tell the truth and much of the information dealing with them would be in archived material.

    Thus we would see a process in which the security forces were subjected to intense scrutiny a la Bloody Sunday etc, and the terrorists would be given a platform to espouse their bullshit version of history.

    The result would be an exercise in the rewriting of history to suit the terrorist narrative. Which is why the Sinners are so keen on it. If my part in history was anything like as dire as theirs’ is I would be keen on it too.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    are you having a laugh? The “security forces” are duty bound etc. Do you mean the same “security forces” that colluded with what you call terrorists to kill people, set people up and actually carried out some of the killings as well? You need to give your head a good shake!

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    are you having a laugh? The “security forces” are duty bound etc. Do you mean the same “security forces” that colluded with what you call terrorists to kill people, set people up and actually carried out some of the killings as well? You need to give your head a good shake!”

    Fordperfect,

    You appear to be following a policy of ignoring the findings of recent inquiries and continuing to believe the republican propaganda.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    no, I’m stating a fact! Remember the Stalker Inquiry? Reams and reams of relevant info going missing, evidence destroyed and offices set on fire.

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    no, I’m stating a fact! Remember the Stalker Inquiry? Reams and reams of relevant info going missing, evidence destroyed and offices set on fire.”

    Fordperfect,

    How could I forget. Republicans have been dining out on Stalker for years now. It rather proves the point that I was making. There have been no ‘Stalkers’ into the activities of our terrorist organisations in general and our terrorist supporting politicians in particular.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    now which “terrorist” organisations are you referring to?

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    now which “terrorist” organisations are you referring to?”

    Fordperfect,

    All of them, but the ones which have political wings which enjoy widespread support in particular.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    you mean like the British Army? The RUC/PSNI? The UDR/RIR? Their political wing sits in Westminster, and whatever stripe of Con/Dem/Lab gets in they all support them.

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    you mean like the British Army? The RUC/PSNI? The UDR/RIR? Their political wing sits in Westminster, and whatever stripe of Con/Dem/Lab gets in they all support them.”

    Fordperfect,

    Er, no. They are legitimate forces of the state and have been subject to Stalker type inquiries. I am refering to illegal terrorist organisations such as PIRA which have not.

    If agents of the state from twenty years ago are to be investigated then why should current agents of the state who twenty years ago were terrorists not also be investigated?

  • lamhdearg

    If we had a truth commission, do you believe the leader of the pira in belfast in 1978, will stand up in it and admit his part in the lamon bombing?. if you do not believe he would do this or even if your thinking that say, the man that run the dublin and monaghan bomb team was a british officer, would he stand up and admit that?. if the answer is no to any of those ?, then you can only concur that a truth com, would only be a very exspensive piece of window dressing.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Hahahahahahahaha, so funny! They were ligitimate forces of the state, they were indeed and they indulged in beatings, torture and murder! Paragons of virtue the lot!

  • fordprefect

    Lamhdearg,
    I normally don’t agree with you, but, you are spot on! I’ve said before on this blog, how can a compulsive liar call for a truth commission? And by that, I mean Gerry Adams.

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    Hahahahahahahaha, so funny! They were ligitimate forces of the state, they were indeed and they indulged in beatings, torture and murder! Paragons of virtue the lot!”

    Fordperfect,

    Presumably you really detest people who have engaged in beatings, torture and murder?

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Yep, all of them!

  • Limerick

    Fordperfect,

    That must vastly limit your choices come election time.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Just like you then!

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    Just like you then!”

    Fordperfect,

    I’m not a republican.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Obviously not! So which Unionist party that had links, supported and backed unionist paramilitaries will you be voting for?

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    Obviously not! So which Unionist party that had links, supported and backed unionist paramilitaries will you be voting for?”

    Fordperfect,

    None.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Alliance, SDLP or none at all?

  • lamhdearg

    lets all love each other.

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    Alliance, SDLP or none at all?”

    Fordperfect,

    My voting habits are confidential, but I can tell you that I do not vote for parties that support beatings, torture or murder either now or retrospectively. Can you say the same. ‘Mucker’.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    You can’t be 100% on that, “Mucker!”

  • fordprefect

    Lamhdearg,
    I agree with you, let’s all love each other! LOL

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    You can’t be 100% on that, “Mucker!””

    Fordperfect,

    Oh but I can. A chara.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    How, a chara, unless you vote for no-one!

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    How, a chara, unless you vote for no-one!”

    Fordperfect,

    Me old china. By carefully selecting a political party which did not have a terrorist wing. Something which is not a huge problem in my community.

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Where do you live? Xanadu?

  • Limerick

    “Limerick,
    Where do you live? Xanadu?”

    Fordperfect,

    I live in the UK.

  • Mark

    Me old china ….is that you Alf ?

  • Limerick

    Mark,

    This is Limerick.

  • fordprefect

    Mark,
    I think it is Alf!

  • Limerick

    “Mark,
    I think it is Alf!”

    Fordperfect,

    Alf who mucker?

  • pippakin

    Limerick

    I hate to intrude but from where I’m sitting I think the missing surname is Garnett…

  • fordprefect

    Pippa,
    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

  • Limerick

    Pippakin,

    I can assure that is not my surname. Why do people think I am the gentleman in question?

  • fordprefect

    Mark,
    I’m not sure, old chap, but I remember an Alf on here with the same viewpoints.

  • Limerick

    “Mark,
    I’m not sure, old chap, but I remember an Alf on here with the same viewpoints.”

    Fordperfect,

    Would you be Gerry Adams then?

  • fordprefect

    Limerick,
    Most definately not GA here! I’m not a lying B******!

  • Limerick

    Fordperfect,

    That’s reassuring.