#TheDisappeared: “We do not need some elaborate international truth machinery…”

And whilst we’re on the subject of truth recovery, today’s debate on The Disappeared should make Stormont Today a little bit more interesting…


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Alasdair McDonnell spoke earlier…

“What they did was evil, and it remains evil while they deny or refuse the truth. All those hundreds of people are not dead, nor have they gone away. They are still there, most of them still in association with some element of the Provisional movement. They are still there, still staying silent, still staying away from the truth and they are still guilty as long as they refuse to come forward and help the bereaved families.

“We do not need some elaborate international truth machinery in order for them to do the decent thing. Some of the shooters, some of the grave-diggers, some of the interrogators, some of the scouts and van drivers may have gone with the dissidents. Most did not.

“There are still hundreds of people out there who each know a little piece of the truth and the lies about ‘The Disappeared’, and they are amenable to the influence and leadership of today’s Provisional movement. All that is needed is the will.”

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris Lyttle has said…

    …we have reached tipping point for people like Gerry Adams… for disclosure of what they know and if they don’t we have to question their commitment to uniting this community and this island…

  • Charles_Gould

    Very good words from Dr A McDonnell. Take note Mr Adams.

  • son of sam

    Charles
    Agree with you about Dr Mc Donnells contribution to the debate.But when did Sinn Fein or Mr Adams pay a blind bit of attention to comments from the S D L P?

  • tacapall

    “There are still hundreds of people out there who each know a little piece of the truth and the lies about ‘The Disappeared’, and they are amenable to the influence and leadership of today’s Provisional movement. All that is needed is the will.”

    The IRA has already more or less admitted to kidnapping and executing all the people who Alasdair McDonnell is talking about and however horrific and disturbing the murders and secret burials were, what possible reason is there for them or anyone once connected to them for witholding information about the whereabouts of their remains. Either the people who carried out the burials are dead or the exact location of the bodies has somehow been lost over the years.

  • Randal Brown

    Alasdair McDonnell was right to speak about those responsible for murders and disappearances coming forward to help the bereaved. One aspect of the work of the HET was that truth recovery helps the families of the victims. The HET has sought to function as such a process, attempting to provide answers for those seeking information about family members, friends and colleagues killed or unaccounted for. There is recognition that the death of a loved one, no matter how long ago, is not only a historical event, the responsibility for which falls under the jurisdiction of the courts, but is also a continuing source of trauma. Those who work with the HET seem to be aware that the truth recovery aspect of their work may be a means of resolving trauma for individuals and for society as a whole in Northern Ireland. In this respect, positive statements about the effectiveness of truth recovery have been made by family members for whom the findings and disclosures of the HET have been personally helpful. “A policeman’s daughter, who was 18 months old when her father died in 1972, told us, ‘A jigsaw has finally been put together. The details contained within the report have given us a much deeper understanding of the events.'” (The quotation is available at http://www.psni.police.uk/historical-enquiries-team/het-outcomes.htm) In such cases, knowing what happened is more valuable and is as effective as giving closure for the bereaved than securing a conviction, and many have said so themselves.

    But a rigorous judicial truth recovery process is another matter. The HET has been ineffective, and the experience of the people of Spain is instructive. Following the Civil War, the Franco regime sought to justify itself by making ‘the truth’ known to everyone, to discredit its enemies and secure its own position. When democracy came, a collective amnesia descended and the war and its horrors was consigned to the past, only for a demand for fresh investigation and truth recovery in recent years. Truth recovery and / or concealment are political tools, and prove to be manipulative and dangerous when used irresponsibly, and are often concerned with conflicting narratives in the historical memory – official and unofficial narratives. In any case, the demand will change with the wind, and we should beware.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Charles
    Agree with you about Dr Mc Donnells contribution to the debate.But when did Sinn Fein or Mr Adams pay a blind bit of attention to comments from the S D L P?

    Well there was Hume Adams, but effectively Sinn Féin are saying that they are in agreement with the SDLP on this issue, if they haven’t stole the clothes they’re wearing the same wardrobe.

    The IRA are of course not a “hive mind” even its leaders would not know what renegades were doing, or have known every specific carried put by their subordinates as the IRA would certainly not keep records but of course these acts were particularly aimed from the IRA’s point of view to stop informants, but have been effectively even the current dissidents would never repeat them and hopefully never will.

    I agree it is illogical to hide information on the Disappeared because it has been a PR disaster for republicans, many of the victims came from republican families sentenced to annihilation on suspicious grounds, to destroy spies and traitors in a way that showed them to be the very worst of their enemies. It would be difficult to argue that protecting order this way severely damaged the cause, I would go to say it was to the PIRA what Bloody Sunday was to the British Army.

    My concern is that Adams wasn’t Sinn Féin’s leader during the time, there would have been a gulf between him an O’Bradaigh on this, so if that party provided any capacity to influence Adams would be less influential than he would have been during the peace talks. If he was involved in IRA intelligence in Belfast he still would probably have little say in Newry or South Armagh or other places.

    I’m not here to make any apologies for Adams but I find it illogical to make him a lone focal point.

  • FuturePhysicist

    It would be difficult to argue protecting order this way helped the cause I mean.

  • Seamuscamp

    “What they did was evil, and it remains evil while they deny or refuse the truth.”

    Not sure what he’s getting at. The sentence would make sense if “whether” replaced “while”. The acts were evil. Keeping silent is a separate evil. Speaking out would not mitigate the original evil; but it might help the many collateral victims and demonstrate a sort of repentance.

    Mick’s belief in the omniscience of GA is troubling and obscures the issue. All those who know details are equally guilty. Guilt by association is irrelevant. So what do you know (as distinct from what you or I believe), Mick? And have you shared it with PSNI?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Alasdair is talking about a still harming, continuous viral evil, one that cannot lie to quote a Paisleyism in a “Sadduceean Grave” but will always rise again from the shadows because there can never any closure to the pain while people know there are people out there who could end 40 years of despair with a token gesture but do nothing because of a fear of losing the power to terrorise.

    If these people are truly republican and Irish patriots, they don’t need politicians telling them this, they only have to listen The will of the Irish people want those bodies to come home to their families in reaction to the same program showed on RTÉ and the BBC,