There is a lingering idea among Irish people that, because of our own past sufferings, we have a particularly sensitive moral antenna, highly attuned to instances of injustice and exploitation.
That does not always bear out in reality. Perhaps we’re just more hypocritical: witness the Irish red carpet for red China, rolled out earlier this year. Tiananmen Square?
Is that a Nama development?
The other striking aspect of the McAreavey trial and publication of the offending photographs is the determinedly bullish attitude taken towards the Mauritians by the Government, and by Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers.
Of course, we are all shocked, all disgusted.
But there is also the sense that, with Mauritius, there is finally a state with which Ireland, North and South, can throw its weight around.
Ministers appear to have drawn confidence from the wave of high public feeling in taking this small island state sternly to task.
The question is whether we have accrued enough moral capital of our own to be able to do that with sufficient authority. There have been times on our own island when the guilty have gone free.
The former presidential candidate said he wants a retrial in Mauritius over the unsolved killing as he prepared to meet the country’s High Commissioner in London.
Legends hotel workers Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon were cleared of the murder by a jury at the Supreme Court in Port Louis last Thursday.
Jurors had deliberated for about two hours.
Mr McGuinness said: “The real purpose of the meeting is to discuss with the Mauritius authorities the appalling handling of the case relating to the murder of Michaela McAreavey and the appalling way in which the Harte and McAreavey families were treated during the course of not just the investigation but the court proceedings, and the perverse verdict of the jury.
“There’s a very strong view on the island of Ireland and shared by the McAreavey and Harte families that they did not get justice.”
In the interview on RTÉ Radio, he added: “I do disagree with the verdict of the jury.”
Mr McGuinness said he believed that there are people in political authority in Mauritius who share his views.
“The focus has to be on a retrial,” he said.
After that meeting in London, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness was less strident
[The Northern Ireland Attorney General] Mr Larkin has asked for a set of the trial papers and Mr McGuinness said he would be “examining in conjunction with the Mauritian authorities all of the possibilities. It would be foolish for me, someone who isn’t a lawyer, to delve into the legal process”. [added emphasis]
Indeed. That change in tone might have something to do with what the Acting Mauritian High Commissioner to London, Mohamed Latona, said.
Mr Latona said his discussions with Mr McGuinness had been “very positive”.
“We had a frank discussion where he expressed their sentiments, which we fully understand and are legitimate,” he said.
“We explained to them that the government of Mauritius will take all necessary action to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
He said the issue of any fresh trial was a decision for the Mauritian legal system. [added emphasis]
Or as the Irish Times report noted
Acting Mauritian high commissioner to London Mohamed Latona said Mr McGuinness had expressed “his sentiments which . . . are legitimate”.
“I explained that the government will take all necessary action to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said, adding that Mauritius was “looking forward” to collaborating with the PSNI and Garda “so that they can help us in further investigation so that we can start afresh”.
He emphasised, however, that Mauritius had an independent courts system. [added emphasis]
Still, what’s a little political interference in an independent judicial system among friends?
As to why Martin McGuinness thought he could “delve into the legal process”, in Mauritius, in the first place…