On legacy, Mrs May seems determined to play a cute political game of her own

This is interesting

Soldiers and police officers who served during the Troubles in Northern Irelandshould not be prosecuted in relation to historical killings and torture, a Westminster committee has said.

The House of Commons defence select committee said a de facto amnesty granted to republican and loyalist paramilitaries under the 1998 Good Friday agreement should be extended to army and police veterans involved in killings and other incidents in the Troubles.

It wants the next British government to introduce an amnesty for police and troops who served in the region between 1969 and 1998.

Paddy Corrigan (valued native of this Parish) spoke on behalf of Amnesty International:

The defence committee’s call today would in effect be the granting of a blanket amnesty for human rights abuses committed by former members of the security forces in Northern Ireland. It would be an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice.

Now, there’s more to Paddy’s point than moral outrage. It’s not clear to me whether any such statute would be enforceable in law.  But it’s interesting not least because this is a unilateral move on the part of HMG. It feels like something has just been put on a table.

For the most part, the structure and customs of what we, sometimes, refer to as the Peace Process™ are part of a relativist Blairite settlement. Mrs May appears determined to play a political game of her own, right to the far edges of her Kingdom.

Barney Rowan rightly noted in the coverage of the election that legacy would need much more time than a simple three-week break would ever allow.  He’s right, not least because the ways of dealing with the past being proposed at the moment have already proven unsustainable.

Figures like Adams and McGuinness have relied on the British keeping their known war records under wraps and inviting the rest of us to entertain the polite fiction that the latter left the IRA in 1974 (see “McGuinness told a whopper of a lie“), whilst the other was a Republican Macavity.

Despite SF’s efforts, most people in Northern Ireland will not be reconciled to the IRA’s own account of what it did: particularly while those who planned and conducted operations against NI’s citizens are not only still alive but retain a controlling footbrake on genuine reconciliation.

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  • Blair was pushing through an broad Amnesty in House of Commons, until quite late in the day SF woke up and the SDLP started to jump. This isn’t anything new. However, there is a weariness with SF, and a sense that it is time to stop indulgence of its piety.

  • Nevin

    “Now, there’s more to Paddy’s point than moral outrage.”

    I don’t think Amnesty International was in a position to stop or curtail the actions of loyalist and republican paramilitaries, those who were responsible for a large bulk of the atrocities. I suppose bleating about acts of commission or omission by governments and/or their agents gives the organisation a feel good buzz.

  • Anon Anon

    It feels like abandoning the rule of law in a one sided strong man move. There are persuasive arguments for amnesty and dealing with the past differently. There are none for this.

    We’ve already had Brian on to tell us what a clever wheeze it. Wondered how long before you’d follow up. Moral cowardice all round.

  • Brian Walker

    The legacy would indeed take longer than three weeks to deal with. But it’s long enough for the British government properly to assume responsibility where it belongs, face the parties with a decision unilaterally to release funding for inquests, set up the HIU and leave the results to due process for five years.

    But I fear the proposal to pass a one sided amnesty act will throw everything back into the melting pot – unless it’s quickly followed by a careful offer of general immunity for confessions. Even if the response was poor, the state would at last have done the right thing.

  • doopa

    Despite tory efforts, most people in Northern Ireland will not be reconciled to the British Army’s own account of what it did: particularly while those who planned and conducted operations against NI’s citizens are not only still alive but retain a controlling footbrake on genuine reconciliation.

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: But I fear the proposal to pass a one sided amnesty act will throw everything back into the melting pot
    The suggestion made in the article is not one-sided – just the opposite, in fact: “…a de facto amnesty granted to republican and loyalist paramilitaries under the 1998 Good Friday agreement should be extended to army and police veterans…”
    As for Paddy Corrigan’s remarks – is he in favour of retracting the existing leniency for republican and loyalist paramilitaries, because that too surely counts as “an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice”

  • 1729torus

    Hear that? That’s the sound of Ireland quietly drifting from the UK, like Belarus and Russia.

  • nilehenri

    …most people in Northern Ireland will not be reconciled…
    you’d be amazed what we could put up with for a bit of peace mick.

  • Gopher

    Not really, with terrorism’s capacity to make victims on a now industrial scale civil legistlation is obsolete and the Geneva convention deals with actual war, there will have to be some legal code to bridge the gap as military and police crossover. The western world will likely codify legislation that covers black flag terrorist campaigns and apply that through an international convention.

  • james

    Bye then. Hope you don’t mind us NI folks staying on here in the UK.

  • james

    It is rather bizarre that Amnesty aren’t outside Sinn Fein offices protesting.

  • mickfealty

    “Putting up with” is a very good way of putting it Nile. That’s not reconciliation… I prefer the accountant’s version.

    “make (one account) consistent with another, especially by allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed….”

  • file

    Good definition, Mick, but this is not accountancy – this is about truth,

    One narrative of NI (Gregory Campbell’s, for example) would tell you that there was no discrimination against Catholics in the period 1921-1969, or that it was fairly limited. In order to make that account consistent with the other account (the truth) that there was widespread and institutional discrimination against Catholics, either the former account must disappear completely, or you must tinker with the truth. The latter is never a preferred option, but if you do the former you will hear cries of, ‘Sinn Féín is trying to force its narrative of the past on us poor wee Protestants’. Reconcile yourself to the truth, is a phrase that echoes from my religious formation.

    So it is not always about balance and give and take: sometimes it is about one account being 100% correct and closing the other account down completely,

    Also, is this notion that reconciliation must happen just blind acceptance of a liberal agenda? Not that it is necessarily a bad thing of itself, but I do not recall voting for it … and it is not a deal-breaker. So long as both tribes are treated equally and with respect, reconciliation can remain an aspiration, as it does between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporters in the state immediately to our south.