There’s some anticipation as to what the Haass talks will finally produce tomorrow (or will it be New Year’s Eve?). Part of the anticipation is the nature of what is agreed and part is what kind of gains or losses unionists/republicans have made. On one issue, however, there’s no need to wait. Even before the final whistle has blown, the DUP have told the world their sticking point.
Which is? Investigation of the past. WHA’? No, no, no – don’t worry. There’s investigation of the past and then there’s kicking sleeping/well-hidden dogs.
The latest document produced by Haass suggests setting up a body to recover details about deaths during the Troubles. This body could compel witnesses to co-operate. It’s that last bit the DUP can’t take. They’re concerned that it would mean former police officers and British army intelligence officers would have to discuss top secret security matters. This, they say, is a red line they will not cross.
But it’s not all negativity. “We would welcome the shining of a light into the murky worlds of the IRA, the UDA, the UVF and all the other terrorist groups which murdered most of the people who died in the conflict.”
Mmm. So is the DUP anxious for no police/army investigation because they fear that top secret information will be spilled? That’d be odd. The British government has a better record for holding back on information than spilling information about their secret activities. Or maybe it’s that police and British army being compelled to open up would reveal the murky depths they’ve plumbed during the conflict.
One thing emerges from their objection, however. We’re back where we started pre-1998. Back then, the DUP were attributing the bloodshed to terrorist murderer bad-guys, with the RUC/UDR/British army good guys trying to protect people. Fifteen years later, that’s still the picture they’re determined to present. In this they have at least two valuable allies: the southern government and the southern media.
God help Haass, trying to struggle with that kind of locked-down mind-set.