The aptly-named Dick Roche was on television yesterday. Dick is a well-padded man, an Irish cabinet minister and he was talking about a young Irishman who’d been shot dead in Bolivia. The authorities there say the young man was part of a group intent on assassinating the country’s president, Evo Morales. Dick in contrast said that there was no evidence the young man was engaged in illegal activities, and that he Dick was full of sympathy for the young man and his family.
Well good man Dick. For a young man to lose his life is saddening, and the sadness is somehow deepened by the fact that the sad events occurred so far away from home. Which makes it doubly cheering that a politician so elevated can empathise with ordinary people, especially when misfortune strikes in a foreign land.
And it is of course a blow for justice and human rights everywhere that Dick has insisted we must presume the young man innocent until or if he is proved guilty. That’s the cornerstone of any respectable justice system. Dick had another opportunity to speak out under similar circumstances in Latin America a few years ago. Three Irishmen were arrested and charged with helping FARC guerrillas in their campaign against the government. There was no evidence of any kind that the men had done what they were charged– in fact the testimony of some witnesses for the prosecution were shown to be poorly-constructed lies, contradicted by the facts. Unfortunately Dick must have been on his holidays or maybe nodded off during the months of the men’s incarceration and trial. There are some suspicious-minded people who think that because the men had links with Sinn Fein, that may have affected Dick’s notable silence as well as the cries of ‘They’re guilty as hell and deserve what’s coming to them!’ that came from his colleagues in Fianna Fail and much of the Irish media.
Inconsistency: that’s what makes so many Irish politicians a delight to observe. Sure if well-padded men like Dick reacted in the same way to every Irishman abroad who was killed or imprisoned, life would be very dull.