Who benefits from the current debacle in the Dáil? No-one. Certainly not victims of the conflict seeking truth and some closure to the deaths of their loved ones.
The Irish Times’ Michael O’Regan told Radio Kerry this morning that the Stack family are being used by opponents of Sinn Féin. He isn’t far off the mark.
An ad hoc process was set up between Austin Stack and Gerry Adams in 2013 to try and bring closure and acknowledgement to the Stack family. This culminated in the Stack brothers and Adams meeting with a former IRA leader to discuss the case.
This was perhaps not the wisest thing for Adams to have done if you’re looking at this in cold political terms. However, the Stack family did subsequently thank Adams for his role in that process.
As long as Adams leads Sinn Féin in the Dáil Fianna Fáil and others will always try to exploit these situations for their own political ends to eat into the softer Sinn Féin vote.
There are no winners here though. It won’t bring families of victims any closer to truth and closure.
Lets say Micheal Martin gets what he wants and the name of the former IRA leader is sent to the authorities. Will it lead to more information being given to the Stack family about their father’s death?
No. Will it lead to players involved in the conflict being less likely to come forward and give information that will lead to closure for other families? Yes.
In the absence of any significant progress on dealing with the past sometimes the only options open to families are ad hoc processes like this.
Whenever matters relating to the conflict have been played out in the Assembly Chamber or the Dáil chamber they have rarely been cordial and usually lead to acrimonious exchanges and slanging matches.
It’s an indictment on the governments and the political parties that we haven’t yet got processes in place to deal with the past effectively, to allow victims to get to the truth and encourage those involved in the conflict to come forward with information.
That is the real scandal.