“Truth and trust are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.”

And Alex Kane makes a fairly pristine argument that there’s nothing stopping Martin McGuinness from going to Smithwick and telling the truth… First of all, he sets the scene:

…the truth is that the UUP and DUP – the first time being December 1999 – still participates in an Executive that includes McGuinness, even though he is routinely referred to as a ‘godfather of terrorism’ and as the former officer-in-command of the IRA’s so-called army council.

I doubt if there is one unionist who believes that McGuinness has a clean pair of hands, let alone a clear conscience.

Even those who voted for the Good Friday Agreement in the 1998 referendum did so in the knowledge that many Sinn Fein members elected to the Assembly would be former terrorists.

They knew that some of them would have done things for which they would never be convicted, let alone brought to trial. At the last Assembly election the DUP remained the largest party on the back of a commitment to continue to work with Sinn Fein.

Every unionist MLA sits on a committee which includes Sinn Fein representation and in so doing (and however they may dress up the fact) assists in the co-governance of Northern Ireland with them. Just a month ago the UUP voted overwhelmingly to remain in the Executive with Sinn Fein.

So why the hoopla every time McGuinness has a skeleton dragged from his cupboard?

And then…

The truth, of course, is that McGuinness and Sinn Fein don’t give a damn. They are not going to budge. They are not going to come clean – because they know they don’t have to. So the “very serious questions” raised are actually for the unionists to address.

It boils down to this. If, given what most of them believe about Sinn Fein, they are prepared to sit around the same Executive table as Martin McGuinness and participate in Assembly committees with Sinn Fein then I’m not really sure what purpose is served by their wholly predictable reaction to something like Smithwick.

There is no opportunity for detailed, serious, orchestrated, researched questioning of Martin McGuinness in the Assembly.

But how can there be honesty and integrity in the political system if key figures are able to hide behind a shrug of the shoulders and a denial issued from a press office? Good government requires morality at its core.

I accept that there are questions which Sinn Fein wants answered about what went on and there are also questions which ordinary nationalists and Roman Catholics want answered about various activities.

Maybe one day there will be a mechanism for those questions to be addressed.

But at this point it is Martin McGuinness and only Martin McGuinness who can tell us about his past. What he did and didn’t do. Does he have sleepless nights? Does he have regrets?

Truth matters – and no more so than for those in government. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to prevent McGuinness stepping up to the mark and accepting responsibility for his personal actions. Truth and trust are intertwined.

You can’t have one without the other.

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  • Mac

    “various activities”

    What a wonderful turn of phrase.

  • galloglaigh
  • tyrone_taggart

    Alex Kane
    ” Good government requires morality at its core.”

    This is an interesting view. Not one universally accepted for example Machiavelli:
    ” believed that public and private morality had to be separate in order to rule. To do this required that the prince be concerned not only with reputation but that he be also willing to act immorally.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_Machiavelli

    If one looks at effective leaders in history they are often do not good at “morality”. The scary ones being those driven by a sense of morality.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Alex Kane
    “honesty and integrity”

    A list of the leaders who had office and I think acted with honesty and integrity. Anyone think of any other leaders?

    Garret FitzGerald
    “Jimmy” Carter: former US president.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m finding Alex Kane sounding increasingly shrill these days.

    I’m lost as to what yet another high-horse article about Martin McGuinness’ past contributes to anything at all beyond endorsing the apparent collective need among a certain faction of unionism to feel morally superior. Even Peter Robinson has given up on that these days.

  • Granni Trixie

    A.ex Kane snipes from the sidelines nowadays which affects his perspective.

    I recognised the GFA as having moral ambiguity at its core but held my nose and voted for it. I suppose I thought that this was justified to stop people being killed.it is an imperfect peace. We just have to keep chipping away at the problems. The most important thing is: is there the
    will to get round the problems including ‘how to deal with the past’ .

  • keano10

    ‘he is routinely referred to as a ‘godfather of terrorism’ and as the former officer-in-command of the IRA’s so-called army council.

    Yeah right Alex – It’s hard to buy a loaf in the local bakery in the morning without people rambling on about ‘the Godfather of terrorism’…

    This shows how out of touch and completely irrelevant people like Kane are. Even the good old DUP choose not to dig up this blind-sided dross anymore.

    I’m off to buy a Bap and debate the make-up of The Army Council…

  • Alias

    “Truth and trust are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.”

    If you had the former from the Shinners, you’d be a damn fool to offer them the latter – just ask Frank Hegarty’s misfortunate mother. As long as they continue to make themselves useful to the British state that state will continue to use its considerable influence to gloss over their considerable transgressions.

  • CS. You’re right of course, about Kane. He’s doing exactly what those unionists are, in continuing to harp on about McGuiness and yet they sit with him. Kane doesn’t appear to see the irony in that, tacitly, he’s also compromising on behalf of the peace. McGuiness is right in saying the NIO can be dispensed with as Labour would have done were they still in office, by merging the SoS for Scotland and wales. There’s no SoS for England so what’s the point of the others?

  • carl marks

    Alex Kane
    I accept that there are questions which Sinn Fein wants answered about what went on and there are also questions which ordinary nationalists and Roman Catholics want answered about various activities.
    Maybe one day there will be a mechanism for those questions to be addressed.
    Fine Chance, unionism is still in denial about the use of terrorism in the formation of NI, (the old uvf and it rebellion against the British and its pogroms against the catholic community) the massive state coordinated discrimination against Catholics, the start of the troubles ( orange volunteers bombing gusty Spence and his gang the burning of Ardoyne and Bombay street etc), and the continued use of loyalist terror groups by Unionist parties when it suited them right through our dirty little war..
    Indeed to read some of the posters on this site and other sites you would think none of these things happened.
    Now I believe that SF both as a party and as individuals should fess up for what they done but anyone who calls for this without making the same call to unionism is playing a propaganda game and not serious about finding out about the past or healing wounds.
    Alex also says
    There is no opportunity for detailed, serious, orchestrated, researched questioning of Martin McGuinness in the Assembly.
    Neither is there one for detailed, serious, orchestrated, researched questioning of Peter Robinson and his parties relationship with loyalist groups. Until we have both we are not to get one.

  • Carl Marx In fact unioists would have been smarter to keep quiet about their 1912 threat of terror which the British govt gave into. This is because it highlights their hypocriy and double standard. Both 1912 and 1916 were risings Acts of revolt against the same government elected in the name of george V. The differwence being that the Dublin rebels weren’t claiming loyalty to the King while secretly arming themselves against his governance.

  • foyle observer

    Prosecute every single one of those british army terrorists who shot dead women and children in Ireland right from Ballymurphy to that terrorist Lee Clegg, then we can consider Martin’s past.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Daniel,

    I think the thing about the NIO is a bit of a sideshow. Occasionally SF and the DUP chuck something out there for the cheap seats and this was one of them. I don’t think it’s worth paying much attention to that sort of stuff.

    The question of McGuinness’ past, and that of other people (not all of them republicans I might add) is perhaps best properly solved under a truth and reconciliation process. The DUP are not in favour of that idea, and SF aren’t massively warm on it either. I don’t see what further discussion can accomplish at this stage; there is so little about McGuinness now that we do not already know.

    Moreover, I can’t be the only person irritated to hear the people who brought us things like the Burntollet, the UWC (and subsequent) strike/coup, mass stoppages, Drumcree 96 and various other things talking about the need for the other lot to come clean. Unionism has yet to account for those and indeed continues to hold that they were justified and proportionate actions. Jim Allister, in his previous career, made it his job to represent people like the convicted murderer who killed taxi driver Michael McGoldrick, and he used all of his skills to get their convictions overturned; and yet we are continuously treated to his view of the treacherous moral compromise being made by others. I can’t see how we can have a proper conversation about the truth until some elements start getting their hypocrisy into a bit of perspective.

  • Comrade. As you dealt with NIO and McGuiness in the first paragraphs, I agree entirely. As to Jim Allister, where to start with his double standards and collection of broken records?. He seems to think he has to do Bob McCartney’s job for him. I didn’t know about his role in the McGoldrick case but not in the least surprised. I lived in Belfast in the last half of the worst year ’72 while attending Felden, [why I had to go 60 miles when there was a GTC at Maydown here, I’ve no idea] and stayed in Limestone Rd and was threatened while walking near Duncarn gardens not aware of the local share out of districts there. As you say, apart from a millisecond of David McNarry mentioning unionists action pre ’68, the denial goes on unabated.