Interesting response from the DPP Barra McGrory, who’s been coming under pressure for his decision to prosecute British soldiers for Troubles era crimes. Vincent Kearney reports:
I asked Mr McGrory if he viewed the criticism as an attempt to influence his decision making and to put pressure on him not to prosecute former soldiers.
“If they are not trying to influence me then they are certainly being personally insulting, and they are questioning my integrity,” he says.
“But what concerns me more about that is that it is insulting to this office and to the lawyers who work here and do their work day and daily with absolute integrity and to the best of their ability.
“So I am personally offended by the remarks, but I am more offended on behalf of the individuals who work for the public prosecution service and who do a fantastic job, so I think those who are making those comments ought to think a bit carefully before they speak in such a way.”
Well, quite. The dignity of any legal office is an important thing in any society (and something that should be borne in mind by anyone commenting below). Doubly so in a divided community like Northern Ireland. The line between fair comment and abuse is a thin one.
It emphasises the need to clear up just how the state handles legacy issues, and raises questions about how it has been handled up to an including Mr McGrory’s appointment.
Whatever happens in that regard justice is a basic human right that cannot be legally withheld from anyone.
The remarkable lack of convictions for Troubles era crimes (whether by pro-state or anti-state actors) has not been subject to any official or public agreement, but the lack of will to pursue never mind prosecute in that regard is clear from even a casual reading the data.
The Scappaticci case is likely to provide more of a test for Mr McGrory’s judgement in the sense that evidence is likely to pass through his office’s hands pointing to multiple murders by persons or persons unknown.
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