Sinn Féin disowns the amnesty deal it’s been asking for incessantly for over twenty years…

One advantage of running a blog over a long time having access to the archives. Indeed, the reasons I turned to blogging software all those years ago back in 2002 was I struggled to find an article from just three years earlier in the Irish Times.

Initially I used Slugger as a researcher’s pin board on which you could trace not just the day to day pulses in the newsflows (very much a feature when the number of journalists writing about NI was a multiple of those now) but the long arcs too.

It enables you to spot the gap between an official party line now and what they’ve done in the past. Whether you think this amnesty is an outrage against the laws of natural justice or a pragmatic device to restore sanity, SF is clearly blagging it.

So here’s Mary Lou lamming into the British in the Dail yesterday…

And here’s a windswept Michelle O’Neill following exactly the same script:


Such lines goes down well with both victims groups (whom they have been encouraging to get involved in all manner of legal action against the state to the point the judicial system can barely function), and their base.

Yet, Boris Johnson has only delivered what SF incessantly pleaded for from Blair, immunity from prosecution. He even offered it to them publicly in 2006, an offer they only abandoned when the SDLP pointed out it would cover state actors.

A year later letters of comfort was the best they could get, but it was enough to get them back into government with Ian Paisley’s DUP. Only when John Downey was arrested did it become clear the only comfort they offered was decidedly cold.

Mr Justice Sweeney’s judgement quotes Tony Blair response to a request from no less a figure than Gerry Adams on 5 May 2000:

You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July [1998] for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement.

I said then, it is hard to see how this public interest defence by Adams would not be used by the Paras in future in order to prevent their successful prosecution in the UK courts. Now the party has what it wants, the victims are now jettisoned.

It could also matched against a sudden and concurrent drop in convictions against paramilitaries who were active before 1998. It’s certainly open to deliberation whether there has been a de facto moratorium in prosecuting for such offences.

More so when you consider the emergence of film documenting Martin McGuinness putting a bomb in the back of a car in the 1970s, had not led to the even the slightest hint of a prosecution against him. This move just makes it official.

SF’s Janus faced approach has actually done for the victims who’s expectations it has been fanning up to deeply unrealistic heights…

As Cillian McGrattan noted in his paper examining the Stormont House Agreement back in 2015:

…most of the unresolved murders will remain unresolved due to the Mafioso-like code of silence enforced by paramilitaries on each other and ‘their’ communities but also because there is no incentive for them to risk renewed imprisonment by incriminating themselves and colleagues by participating in a forensic, evidence-based truth process.

Remember Sinn Féin alone of all mainstream political parties started as a tiny political adjunct to deadly paramilitary organisation, with more skin in this amnesty game than even the British government…



Photo by RODNAE Productions is licensed under CC0