Keeping up the legacy of history theme, The Newsletter has asked Paul Bew to develop his idea for the release of government papers on Northern Ireland earlier than the new 20 year rule. The QUB historian and peer believes that the spate of detailed inquiry reports on what went wrong during the Troubles should be better balanced by what went right. For that he gives more credit than has perhaps been acknowledged to the Northern Ireland Office.
It’s played the leading role in the peace process – by some long way, and I accept that the Irish government and the Americans had a certain role.”
He said that the British government is aware “that there is an imbalance” in the history. But officials felt that they could save money on a history because papers were being released under the 20-year rule, making it easier for historians.
One of the ideas on dealing with the past for Richard Haass perhaps? But who among the attendant politicians would take it up? Outsider views should surely be sought. I gently dissent from Alex Kane’s view championed by Pete that Haaas should face them with the bottom line straight away. Great wheeze for a column but not real. Wouldn’t they plead sincerity straight away, producing evidence of their mutual opposition to paramilitarism and joint support for “sharing? Who would supply the scepticism? It might take a day or two’s debate and hey, then we’re into the talks. Surely Haas has to be a bit more diplomatic than ” take it or leave it?”
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London