After the Adams arrest there is a way through, you know

The IRA is gone, it’s finished.” I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI.”

My reading of Gerry Adams’ statement on his release with his anger only just held in check, is that he wants to limit the damage while capitalising on the circumstances. Snap reactions are notoriously unreliable. But the events of the last four days have allowed the rest of us to speculate on what might have happened if he had been charged. Most people’s thoughts I suspect were not comfortable.  Many would insist that they agreed with Ruth Dudley Edwards:” Let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” and some of them might even have meant it.

Whatever the wisdom of the PSNI’s handling of Adam’s interviews they were in a fiendishly difficult position. When information is put under their noses that suggests direct involvement in crime they feel obliged to act. This applies as much to evidence of the Bloody Sunday inquiry as it does to the Boston tapes and similar interviews. The police are forced to occupy a vacuum far too big for their operational independence. It should properly be filled by political decision.

The episode shows the wisdom of the outgoing chief Constable’s desire to hand over the Past to a new investigative body, thus sparing the PSNI the pressure of spurious allegations of “dark forces” The weakness of Sinn Fein’s conspiracy case against the police is deftly pointed out by David McKittrick but it resonates all the same. As identified by Stephen McCaffery in The Detail we are unlikely to be spared a new frenzy of whataboutery which will do nothing to ease the tensions of the next few months.

The Adams episode should be treated as a minor catharsis to shock the bickering politicians into action. Adams is significant precisely because he and others like him planned and ordered killings and then stopped. That is why many and not only diehard Sinn Fein supporters, believe a move against him is an attack on the peace process itself. This is a conjunction which some will deny and others accept. It is part of the legacy which requires open and frank examination rather than the debilitating polemic of the decades. And it is legacy remember: in all of this we are dealing with the past’s residue in the present. How we deal with the residue is as much part of the legacy as the residue itself. To that extent we are all responsible, even if we are not all to blame.

There is, as it happens, an approach to hand. This is contained in the Haass proposals on the past for a historical investigations unit to review all past cases, information retrieval from the results to  inform   victim families and society as a whole, and a historical review. This has not been comprehensively rejected. It is high time for the two governments to help the local parties pick it up.





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  • red man

    I really think the psni fell for the sinn fein trap .They gifted them maxium air time for the up coming elections and galvanised and added to their support base

  • OneNI

    For all their indignation and anger one’s left feeling they weren’t half rattled by the PSNI’s audacity

  • Mc Slaggart


    “This is contained in the Haass proposals ”

    It is dead.

    “high time for the two governments”

    FG/Labour and the Conservatives are in no position to sort anything out.

    For example:

    Conservatives are stuck between UKip and an orange hall in Fermanagh.

    Labour are worried about being replaced by sf

    Enda kenny is currently tied up with his speech writer after the PSNI has shot his Jean McConville speech to TD Adams

  • Mc Slaggart

    “weren’t half rattled by the PSNI’s audacity”

    So true and who do you think will have gained from this little matter?

  • Greenflag

    Another victory for SF in the long struggle against British injustice in Ireland or so it will be trumpeted to galvanise the turn out in the coming elections North and South .

    @ redman,

    ‘I really think the psni fell for the sinn fein trap ‘

    Perhaps or perhaps not .Ideally the police should not be put under pressure by politicians in a democracy but as we know the history of not just Northern Ireland but elsewhere is rife with politicians interfering with the course of justice .

    SF don’t have to lay traps anyway.It seems as if the ‘forces of political unionism ‘ are such that they can’t ever avoid looking like political losers no matter what the circumstances.

    Whats needed is a general amnesty for all events related to the Troubles 1969-1998 for all sides .Only then can NI move on

    Goodbye to 1969–1989 and all that .

    My sympathies are entirely with the families of the innocent people who lost their lives during the ‘Troubles’ but we all know that at this point in time not much more can be done .

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Well argued post, Brian. I agree with your main point which I think is that this episode has shown up how much we need something like Haass to work – for so many reasons. The unacceptability of the police having to operate in this kind of sticky corner, damned if they do and damned if they don’t, is reason enough to insist on a proper agreed system for dealing with the past.

    It may be that some special system of justice is required to deal with Troubles cases. But it’s not because Troubles crimes are essentially different to any other crime: the criminal law already takes account multifold motivations, circumstances etc and attaching politics to your crime is surely no mitigating factor. So those who committed crimes should not assume they somehow were less serious, or more understandable than other crimes.

    There are two reasons we need some more systematic approach:
    (1) the sheer volume of murders and assaults to be dealt with, the vast majority unsolved and therefore without closure for victims because of paramilitary codes of omertà imposed on not just activists but the wider communities in which they lived.
    (2) there were particular political deals done around crime and punishment. Some were legitimate changes to the law such as the 1998 early release scheme which was made public and voted on as part of the GFA package; and some illegitimate, such as the UK govt’s behind-closed-doors deal with Republicans over OTRs. But with the OTR debacle and now the royal pardons coming to light, it’s surely time to have a proper review of all the developments the powers-that-be have snuck past us, some scrutiny and then a new start, this time done with the agreement of the people and their representatives.

    If our representatives agree that the former terrorists should get immunity and that’s really the way forward, let them draw up an agreement on that and put it to a vote. However, I suggest that there can never be consensus on that basis, nor should there be.

    The only fair system I can think of is to treat Troubles crimes the same as any other crime and to continue to follow up and prosecute where possible – and of course to apply this without fear or favour to all the players involved including the security forces. At the same time, it will be important to manage the expectations of relatives of the murdered that there are unlikely to be criminal convictions in many cases for evidential reasons. You therefore need a parallel process for victims’ families, in which they are supplied with as much information as possible about their own case.

    What will that achieve that an amnesty approach would not?
    1. It would put the rights of victims and families squarely first, and place the needs of perpetrators or other interests well down the scale
    2. It would uphold the sanctity principle that crime is crime – there can be no excuses or recourse to blaming “historical forces” or “emotions running high”. This is a little thing we hold to be important when advising new states around the world on how to organise: the primacy of the rule of law.

    In the next stage of the peace process, peace is a given. And the question becomes, what sort of society do we want? An uneasy one where people feel society’s worst elements have state immunity – or a free one, in which the rights of individuals are supported by the criminal justice system and no one is above the law?

  • Brian Walker

    “The only fair system I can think of is to treat Troubles crimes the same as any other crime and to continue to follow up and prosecute where possible – and of course to apply this without fear or favour to all the players involved including the security forces!”

    But Mainland Ulsterman,are Troubles crimes “the same as any other”? I find no difficulty in saying that they aren’t, not because they’re less brutal cruel and horrible but because they were an extension of society’s ills to a greater extent than “ordinary” crimes.

    Political violence is amenable to political solutions whereas ordinary crimes are much less so. While this view takes care of the factor of deterrence it leaves out the element of individual justice which is a basic human right. Do the individual rights supersede the collective rights therefore? This is a question that cuts both ways.

    The Finucane Centre would say that every conviction made under laws which were below the human rights standards of today’s HR standards should be reviewed and in some cases quashed. These potentially amount to hundreds of cases. Is it conceivable that such a number can be fully reviewed? Campaigners for pursuing paramilitary crimes to the uttermost agree with the Finucane centre that the demand of individual justice are paramount.

    But we struck a deal that qualified those demands, whether the implications were fully acknowledged at the time or not. We’re now waking up to the full import of what it means. Can we afford to go back on it? The blunt fact is that we won’t be allowed to even though the justice process may stagger randomly on.

    A half concealed truth about the Troubles is that considerable numbers of people were perfectly content for them to stagger on. The same applies to the evasions and half truths which are plaguing the transition.

  • Kevsterino

    I’d be surprised if Richard Haass ever returns to Northern Ireland. It had to be a pain in the neck to work so hard to get people to see reason and come home empty handed.

  • Turgon

    Brian Walker,
    But Mainland Ulsterman,are Troubles crimes “the same as any other”? I find no difficulty in saying that they aren’t, not because they’re less brutal cruel and horrible but because they were an extension of society’s ills to a greater extent than “ordinary” crimes.

    Well you may say that but the majority of people here and the majority of their political representatives take different view and this is a democracy.

    But we struck a deal that qualified those demands, whether the implications were fully acknowledged at the time or not. We’re now waking up to the full import of what it means. Can we afford to go back on it? The blunt fact is that we won’t be allowed to even though the justice process may stagger randomly on.

    That is simply incorrect. An agreement was reached that criminals convicted of Troubles related offences would still be prosecuted but would only serve at most two years in goal: that was the only difference from the norm. The recent problems over the likes of the OTR letters are precisely because agreements regarding such matters were not made in the Belfast Agreement. Had such a deal been made the Agreement would almost certainly have been rejected.

    The Belfast Agreement must be respected: terrorist crimes are still crimes and the only difference is length of sentence. All attempts to change that by either the Eames Bradley proposals or the Haas proposals have been rejected. In light of the OTR scandal I suspect there is now even less chance of another deal being reached.

    There may be other ways but they would have to be agreed in a democratic fashion and it is quite clear that the Assembly will not agree such and that a referendum would not agree it either. As such all proposals for any from of amnesty no matter how it is misrepresented as truth, reconciliation etc. are almost certain to be rejected.

    Unless and until such an agreement is reached and agreed in a democratic fashion the normal rule of law must apply and apply equally to all be they members of political organisations, paramilitary terrorist organisations or members of the security forces.

  • Zig70

    Draw a line and move on. Everyone will believe their own truth anyway. There are much more constructive things to be spending time and money on.

  • Brian,

    The compromise between the victims and their supporters on one side and the perpetrators on the other was that there would be a two-year maximum sentence for all political crimes related to the troubles. If that is now to be changed, there should be a full debate. Part of the problem is that all sides were selective in how they thought their actions should be perceived. Both loyalists and republicans proclaimed that they were fighting a war but were happy to have their lawyers treat their actions as ordinary criminal matters subject to criminal standards of proof. The British authorities proclaimed that there was no war but only criminals acting out of various motives, but in the early part of The Troubles behaved as if they were at war. And the SAS behaved, at least after one of their men was shot by an IRA man who refused to surrender as ordered, as if it was a war. The normal supposition is that if ordered to surrender by police with guns drawn ordinary criminals will normally take their chances in court rather than in a shoot-out. This didn’t necessarily apply to IRA gunmen.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon, thank you for making your point courteously and reasonably. It is entirely correct that the GFA provided only for a prisoners release scheme accompanied by a raft of compromises with individual justice including immunity against self –incrimination in inquiries, assistance over arms decommissioning and in recovering the disappeared and so on. There was no amnesty, unionists being opposed in principle, republicans (it would seem from their attitude to the abortive OTR legislation) because it would have let police officers off the hook over collusion, a point they still badly want to demonstrate. So there is an unholy alliance over declaring prosecutions at an end. Call it democracy if you will. None of them conceded that any of their respective political positions down the years were in any way to blame.

    But consider. Pursue the logic of the Adams interrogation. There are hundreds maybe thousands of people walking about with guilty knowledge of all kinds and degrees. Forensic evidence may be scarce but why not interview more of them under caution or arrest – such as the unnamed police officers described in de Silva or paramilitaries identified by the HET but not pursued ?

    #Because of a natural restraint for the sake of a concept of the public interest which has created arbitrary limits and appears to take action only in causes celebres or cases like McGeough which fell through the comfort letters fix. Is that a fair conclusion?

    Other than the status quo which increases instability I see no alternative other than a version of the Haaas proposals for an independent historical inquiries unit to replace the tarnished HET and review its record; take over the Past role of the Police Ombudsman (now in better hands and reviewing 150 cases) and not least, the Past role of the PSNI. I understand the scepticism many feel over yet another demand for independence but I see no alternative to the present vacuum since HMIC criticised the HET and its chief departed.

    The hope must be that a reformed inquiry system will demonstrate the limits of justice and open up at least a few possibilities for truth. But will all those fine democrats agree to it?

  • redstar2011

    Whilst many of us have highlighted MMGs scripted role as a mouthpiece for the British- loved his call for Nats to work for the British security services( exactly how long have you been doing so Marty?)- , SFs attack on Psni/Ruc immediately followed by GAs praise for those who detained them shows the idiotic/ pathetic levels their credibility has reached

  • Turgon

    Brian Walker,
    Turgon, thank you for making your point courteously and reasonably.

    Fair enough but if, I am allowed a personal remark: if you want to indulge in reasoned debate please avoid condescension.

    You have advanced this position (re the past etc.) repeatedly as have others. Most prominently and utterly dishonestly Eames Bradley who whilst pretending not to favour an amnesty effectively did via their odious document. More recently we have found that their moral turpitude went even further in that Eames and Bradley knew about the OTR letters which were at least then seen as an effective amnesty. As such even their dishonest document was itself a lying deceit.

    The simple fact is that your argument, the more emotively (and dishonestly) put argument of Eames Bradley and the more apparently “reasoned” one of Haass (all of which are essentially the same) have been rejected by both the people of Northern Ireland and their political representatives.

    You may see no alternative but the rest of us disagree. We regard your option as worse than the status quo. You claim the status quo promotes instability but it is more likely that your option would provoke much greater instability. It might well result either in parties which supported it being defeated electorally or else if imposed then the parties collapsing Stormont.

    The hope must be that a reformed inquiry system will demonstrate the limits of justice and open up at least a few possibilities for truth.

    Your hope may be that. Most people’s hope is that the rule of law is maintained. It may result in relatively few prosecutions but even now if Ivor Bell has anxieties about the future that gives many of us who bear no responsibility for the Troubles hope. Under Eames Bradley, Haass and your proposals I doubt he would have had any such concerns.

  • tacapall

    “The simple fact is that your argument, the more emotively (and dishonestly) put argument of Eames Bradley and the more apparently “reasoned” one of Haass (all of which are essentially the same) have been rejected by both the people of Northern Ireland and their political representatives”

    Turgon exactly when did all the people in this part of Ireland and all their political representatives reject the Eames Bradley proposals ? Was there some sort of vote or referendum held ?

  • cynic2

    If the IRA has gone forever Gerry, why did it import all those clean pistols form Amerikay while it was saying it was disarming?

    And what happened to them afterwards? Where are they now?

    And how do you know all this ’cause you were ‘never in the IRA’?

  • Mick Fealty


    “I find no difficulty in saying that they aren’t, not because they’re less brutal cruel and horrible but because they were an extension of society’s ills to a greater extent than “ordinary” crimes.”

    I too have very little difficulty in accepting that premise on a personal one to one basis. The whole raison d’etre of the peace process is that we have given ourselves a fresh start.

    But problems arise when you try to scale up a personal proposition into something that’s binding on a society. And to be blunt there is, as of now, no consensus for it.

    Pushing stuff through (like the long overdue Human Rights Bill and the abolition of selection) as though it were foul tasting medicine obviates the development of a broad common purpose.

    We’ve had two agreements that were supposed to give all parties a pass into the future. The first failed from a unionist point of view because it failed to gain recognition from SF of the British state’s monopoly of force in Northern Ireland.

    What we’ve since discovered is not only was that very difficult (such that both Adams and McGuinness had to lie about the precise nature of that Agreement) for Sinn Fein, but that when Adams was removed from the equation, McGuinness the instinctive hawk re-emerged into the public space.

    The past IS difficult. Perhaps Barney Rowan is right and a process is required to deal with it. But such a process cannot arbitrarily be imposed (as Haass was proposing) by one side over the other as an exercise in ‘putting manners on the other’.

    That’s delusionist majoritarian thinking in the name of ‘equality’… I believe we have already had several demonstration of the inadequacy of that approach and given we have such a rigid system (in order to prevent it falling over in the first whimsical gale) there is no way that even the slightest change is going to be wrought without considerable flexibility on the part of the major partners involved.

    As I see it change of any description in Northern Ireland requires (at least) three preconditions: ‘patience’; ‘forgiveness’; and ‘discernment’. One or even two without the other is useless. A blanket decision by the state to wipe matters clean/clear might work at the end of a process, but until even its protagonists find the courage to ask for it out loud in the public square, it cannot be the beginning.

    Lastly, we keep presuming that it is okay to heal bottom up pain of victims with yet more rigid top down solutions. And we do it over and over again without patience, or discernment for what is the right or proper way to build a society capable of empathy and feeling (the two things that war and a century or two of mistrust).

  • Brian Walker

    The rejection of Eames- Bradley focused on recognition payments. It was not wholesale. The repeated abuse of the former archbishop’s good faith is quite disturbing, even from a Presbyterian!

    I can’t see how an historic inquiry unit would violate “the rule of law.” The parties haven’t rejected this part of Haass as I know from my contacts. I fail to see how it benefits victims by denying them reliable case reviews.

    Most reviews have already drawn a blank and there has been no upsurge of protest. The main criticisms have come from people who believe the HET were too easy on the police.

    But that isn’t the main problem is it? It’s the prospect of an official admission one day that some terrorists have got away with it.

  • tacapall

    Cynic should you not also be asking where is all those automatic rifles the DUP created Ulster Resistance imported into this country ? When are unionist politicians and people like yourself going to demand the UDA and the UVF to decommission their weapons ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Doesn’t the problem Brian lie less with the imperfections in the proffered solutions so much as with their failure to resonate with people?

    By which I mean, surely there’s no point in offering a beautiful technocratic solution if no one sees the relevance to them?

    As you know I belatedly (three weeks late) put the Eames Bradley document up on its own commentable site so that people could see its scope and filter back insight criticism to its authors.

    I think the only comments it attracted at the time was a couple from you and about two others. By then the PR horse had bolted.

    I remember Jarlath Burns in particular feeling very aggrieved about the negative response it got from people he felt had given him private assurance that it was okay.

    The problem was the money, but it was also that the technical solution did not resonate with people, in the way say voting for a strong nationalist (SF) or strong unionist (DUP) party does.

    We keep rushing at this and we keep getting it wrong. At the very least we need to slow down and stop resorting to endless brinkmanship that has been cyclically failing since SAA.

  • tacapall

    “First Minister Peter Robinson has offered to meet the son of IRA murder victim Jean McConville in the coming days to discuss how he can help the family”

    Its a pity Peter Robinson and the DUP never done the same for Raymond McCord I wonder why.

  • aquifer

    Serious and also public allegations about a murder associated with an organisation that routinely conspired to defeat prosecution and to intimidate potential witnesses.

    How is questioning under arrest a surprise?

    Some people are still prickly about the police, but come on.

    I would like to see a DUP figure taking a trip to Antrim though, their sectarian sanctimony is hard to take when the Paisleyite and Provo double act wasted more than a generation.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick, I’m neither so pessimistic nor so profound, just a humble pragmatist. I just think it’s useful to take shards of agreement and try to stick them together and see what happens.

    There’s nothing personal about my statement on society’s ills. The agreements were predicated on the obvious fact of a dysfunctional polity leading to violence. Therefore to an extent all of society is responsible if not equally to blame.

    Pinning all responsibility on the violence is a political cop out. I’d say the parties all recognise that with differing emphasis. The parties are now in a bind because they feel they can’t afford the accusation of betraying their own victims and therefore the cause. Therefore we are obliged to go through another elaborate process to demonstrate conclusively the limitations of justice and truth. If it helps, so be it. But if they really can’t agree the politicians will be betraying the victims even more comprehensively than now.

    Where is the top down? Haass was feeding back in coherent form what the parties had told him and each other. Top down doesn’t work but how about nudge to help divided parties take responsibility? And there’s not an amnesty in sight!

    The ultra- pessimists seem to forget that they did actually mange to make the GFA and the St Andrews agreement. And by the way, that they are now responsible for making new law for justice and policing, not that you’d think so .

    Remember the old Trimble schtick ; I leap you, leap we’ll all leap together?” Doable, really.

  • Dixie Elliott

    And as regular as a bowel movement we have the customary pre-election death threats against members of PSF. It wouldn’t be an election campaign for the Shinners if there wasn’t one as we’ve seen over the years.

    And as usual after the elections we’ll hear no more of death threats until the next election.

    Do people never weary of such predictability?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Interestingly enough after the Stormont Spy Ring trail collapsed Denis Donaldson made claims of ‘Political Policing’…

    ‘Afterwards, Mr Donaldson said the charges should never have been brought. It was political policing and political charges and the fact that we were acquitted today proves that, he said.’


    And of course McGuinness got into the picture with…

    ‘The PSNI said that its investigation into the matter had now concluded. But Martin McGuinness, an MP and Sinn Feins chief negotiator, disagreed, saying that the allegation of a spy ring had been concocted to destroy political progress at Stormont. He said: This is a shameful episode . .
    . there never was a spy ring operating at Stormont.’

    I wonder when McGuinness will bring the names of those Dark Forces within the PSNI to the attention of the PONI?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Some interesting points made by Pauline Mellon on the shinner’s copious claims of ‘political policing’…

  • Turgon

    Brian Walker,
    My religious denomination is completely irrelevant to the debate. I did suggest you avoided condescension and man playing. Maybe try it sometime if you want reasoned debate.

    Leaving that aside. Your comments on Eames Bradley are, however, disingenuous to the point of dishonesty. Eames Bradley’s rejection was not focused on the recognition payments (Ford Focus of money). That was indeed one part of the rejection but only one. The dishonesty of the effective amnesty doubly so now we know that Eames and Bradley knew about the OTR letters was another very major issue. The idiotic and insulting day of reflection was also rejected. Indeed the whole thing was rejected as the immoral nonsense that it was. That was the cause of its rejection and the destruction of Eames’s credibility: an entirely just outcome. One I suspect still wrinkles with him. Sadly Eames a churchman should know that after an error as grave as his involvement in that loathsome piece of immorality some sort of repentance would be appropriate.

    As Alex Kane noted at the time Eames had been recently made a Lord and as we later learned he received about £60,000 or more from this disgusting piece of moral turpitude. 30 pieces of silver would not be enough for the noble Lord Eames. The reason I attack Lord Eames’s good faith is because of his distinct lack of good faith or honesty in the report. He and Bradley ignored almost all of the evidence they pompously went round Northern Ireland and further afield pretending to gather.

    Not much to disagree with but I think your comments on Burns are a bit generous to him. Remember Jarlath Burns broke confidences to make allegations about what unionist politicians had supposedly said. Then when challenged to put up or shut up with names he promptly did the latter. As such his bone fides in the whole debacle are destroyed nearly as much as Eames’s.

    You are, however, correct that Eames Bardley’s proposals failed to resonate above and beyond the Ford Focus of money. The proposals were rejected lock, stock and barrel. The money was the matter the media focused on most but that was far, far from the only part rejected. Indeed the money furore was used at the time to pretend (dishonestly) that people did not look at the rest and rejected the whole thing as a knee jerk to the money. This was used to imply people were too stupid to see past the money.

    In the consultation the public had rejected any amnesty of any sort and rejected almost all of the things the report went on to propose. It was this, the pretence it was a consultation, when actually it was an attempted imposition of a specific politically motivated plan which destroyed the credibility of Eames Bradley. The fact that most of the negative impacts fell on Eames with maybe a bit on Burns was unfair. Bradley, Lesley Carroll and all the rest of them should have shared the pain: them all having contributed to the document and them having all personally prospered from their involvement in it (it was not just the co chairs who were pretty handsomely rewarded for their involvement).

  • mac tire

    Time to stop kidding yourself Turgon – for many money is king. You can intellectualise all you want – but for most, whether groups or individuals, they want their gold or power.
    You may have your morals – the rest? Well, I am sure they can speak for themselves.
    I pray that the scales fall from your eyes, delicate though you are.

  • Turgon

    mac tire,
    Well if money were king why was the Ford Focus of money (recognition payment) rejected? Clearly to victims it was morally unacceptable to make Lenny Murphy or Thomas Begley equivalent to Barney Greene or Kathyrn Eakin.

    You are correct though that money was king for some: most especially for the members of the Eames Bradley commission who were well rewarded financially for their moral turpitude.

  • Reader

    tacapall: When are unionist politicians and people like yourself going to demand the UDA and the UVF to decommission their weapons ?
    A few seconds on google produced the following:
    Have you been waiting all these years?

  • Mick Fealty


    Valued member of the team or no, you are dancing on the edge of yellow. Please count to ten, no twenty before pressing send and take the personal out and leave the good stuff in.

  • tacapall

    Well thank you Reader for that update I will sleep easier in my bed tonight now that the international commission along with the UDA and UVF claim they have now decommissioned all their weapons, however, not that Im being ungrateful or anything but didn’t the DUP and the UUP refuse to accept the word of these commissioners on the issue of IRA decommissioning and demanded independent verification in the form of two respected people from religious institutions who in a blaze of publicity verified that decommissioning actually did happen. Are we to take the word of the British government, the very same people who armed them in the first place ?

    Tugon seeing as your too coy to answer the question most people are asking themselves –

    Northern Ireland needs referendum on Troubles legacy, says Woodward Former minister Shaun Woodward proposes plebiscite to bypass politicians and commit province to dealing with its past

    “A referendum should be held in Northern Ireland on a new mechanism to deal with the legacy of the Troubles to ensure the province escapes the “clenched jaws of its grisly past”, the former cabinet minister Shaun Woodward has said.

    Writing in the Guardian, Labour’s last Northern Ireland secretary says the arrest of Gerry Adams has shown how the province’s troubled past can destabilise today’s peace process.

    Woodward says many republicans are wondering why the president of Sinn Féin was arrested in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville while soldiers on duty on Bloody Sunday in the same year had not been questioned.

    Woodward writes: “The people of Northern Ireland should now be given a chance to vote for a future that is certain and secure, with a time-limited mechanism to deal with outstanding problems. This is an opportunity we should not miss. Some good may yet come out of the instability and perils of the last few days.”

  • GEF

    Interesting how history keep repeating itself. Even dear old Moses (the author of the first 5 books of the Bible) committed murder and did a runner. Only in those days the Pharaoh did not send an amnesty letter. Had the PSOE (police service of Egypt) arrested him he would have been nutted.

    Exodus 2:11-15
    GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
    Moses Commits Murder and Flees to Midian

    11 In the course of time Moses grew up. Then he went to see his own people and watched them suffering under forced labor. He saw a Hebrew, one of his own people, being beaten by an Egyptian. 12 He looked all around, and when he didn’t see anyone, he beat the Egyptian to death and hid the body in the sand.

    13 When Moses went there the next day, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. He asked the one who started the fight, “Why are you beating another Hebrew?”

    14 The man asked, “Who made you our ruler and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought that everyone knew what he had done.

    15 When Pharaoh heard what Moses had done, he tried to have him killed. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “The police are forced to occupy a vacuum far too big for their operational independence. It should properly be filled by political decision.”

    Are you seriously calling for trial by democracy? You’ve already said the evidence is there against Adams but even if it were not, he should go to jail anyway, because it is a popular thing to do.