Interesting response to the Hain interview this morning from Mark Durkan…
“It is no surprise that Peter Hain has now articulated this view. That was clearly his position. Sinn Fein, who have been quoting him in aid this week, know that this was Peter Hain’s view when they were collaborating together to push forward the NI (Offences) Bill in 2005 (which was misnomered as the On The Runs bill).
“In the context of the Hain-Adams Bill, which Peter Hain was forced to withdraw after Sinn Fein had been forced to withdraw their support, Peter Hain used words like illogical, indefensible and unconscionable to justify indemnity for members of the security forces as a corollary for any such assurance to republicans.
“We also know from the time of the Hain/Adams Bill that when Sinn Fein had to eventually admit that its scope did include the Bloody Sunday paratroopers, Martin McGuinness dismissed that as an issue when, interviewed on Hearts and Minds, he said that he did “not envisage that any people who were involved in the murders of nationalists … is ever going to be brought before a court in this day and age.”
“Those who have stood over the scheme revealed in the High Court case have claimed that it doesn’t imply an amnesty, and that everybody really knew everything about it.
“Yet now, one of its authors is saying that the fact of the scheme should mean amnesty for everybody and anybody in relation to anything. We will also have others, including Tories and unionists rallying around such a demand.
“Sinn Fein know if others had really known about the ‘Shinners’ List’ and letters having such import on a court case those others would have then been demanding indemnity for the security forces too. That presumably was one of the reasons for key aspects of the scheme being hidden.
“I know that many families may be anxious and aggrieved by the inevitable and predictable line that has now come from Peter Hain, and will be pushed by others, but this is a consequence of Sinn Fein’s selfish misdealing, which we will have to work hard to resist – firstly by reminding people both the Eames-Bradley report and the Haass drafts ruled out amnesty as a basis for dealing with the Past.”
If you want to get across the detail, this briefing from the party published at the time is about the most authoritative commentary on the detail of the NI (Offences) Bill, 2005.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty