Riffing of Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe, Seamus comes up with an argument you sense has been much talked about under wraps but which no one has the political strength (rather than confidence) to ask for:
The only legitimate way to end yet more years of speculation and anguish for the McConville family is for the governments of Ireland and Britain to agree a general amnesty that will allow all participants to the conflict, willing or otherwise, to give truthful testimonies free of fear or repercussion. Only then will we learn the truth about Jean McConville. Or about Gerry Adams.
That’s not far from what the now uncharacteristically silent AG for Northern Ireland was arguing for before the Sweeney judgement…
There’s just one flaw with it, and it’s quite a big one. Seamus is presuming that prosecution is the former combatants only concern regarding a full account of the truth of what they did in the war.
The far greater danger is the constant exposure to the truth of the long path northern revolutionary republicanism took to finally embrace politics.
To paraphrase the first Chancellor of Germany Otto von Bismarck, ‘to retain respect for sausages and politics, one must not watch them in the making’.
The possibility of substantial truth emerging in a such a controversial manner and where the contemporary political stakes are so high, looks like a beaten docken before the dog even comes onto the track.
Of course, in literature we have already been there (review by Joseph O’Connor), and if it were done properly, ie with the victims truly in mind, the drip, drip, drip of horrendous detail would have disaterous political results for former combatants.
Which is one reason why they, sensibly from their point of view, would never agree to put their own heads in such a collective noose.