There is nothing that casts the gulf in language and empathy between nationalists and any sort of long term reconciliation within the UK in such stark contrasts as episodes like Pat Finucane’s murder by agents of the state, and, the unfolding of the subsequent attempts by the state to simulate a process of legal and judicial redress. Both nationalism and unionism regularly struggle under the weight of their preferred histories but the diametric perspectives offered by their differing requirements for a relationship with London can often find ways to securely root those histories in relatively firm foundations.
From (inter alia) the direct actions of the state both on Bloody Sunday then via Widgery (and the expensive conceit that was the protracted delays of the Saville inquiry) to what can be construed as the retrospective co-option of the failings of the original McGurks Bar bombing investigation by the Ombudsmans office, a contemporary rather than purely historical resonance emerges. Historical or otherwise, all those who suffer due to the violence of the last decades cannot just easily put their hurt or emotions to one side as time has elapsed. The longer the interval between a failure on the part of the state, it’s uniformed forces or it’s arms lengths agents, the less likely it becomes that any form of meaningful public (or political) redress becomes possible for those at whom the state’s violence was directed. In that respect, calls for the transmutation of many of these episodes into histories as a mechanism for ‘dealing with the past’, however well considered, are still, in many respects, premature.
In my opinion, the issues with the McGurks Bar bombing (and its investigation) aren’t collusion, which is merely a convenient political forum in which to divert what should be addressed via evidential tests and prosecutions (collusion, as a crime per se, doesn’t exist). As with the Ombudsman issue, the Finucane case seems to put the UK again in contravention of Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (and, ironically, a face-saving derogation under Article 13.2 would render the vast majority of post-1972 prosecutions illegal). Fundamentally, these cases put the UK in the same league as those states whose bombing it tends to sanction via the UN.
If you still don’t understand why Pat Finucane was murdered, then perhaps Martin Sheen can explain better than me. If you don’t understand the political fallout from state violence, and, as significantly, the perpetuation of the intent behind it in refusing to meaningfully address both it and it’s legacy, then, I’m sorry, but your understanding of injustice and what grows from it is weak.
Martin Luther King famously stated that “Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.” That sentiment gives new resonances to Patrick Pearse’s best known rhetorical flourish from another age. If peace is the presence of justice and Irish nationalists are to expect that justice from the UK, it still seems that:
…while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace…