What makes Peter, Tom and Jim mad



I have no doubt that Peter Robinson does as he claims have real sympathy for the victims of what he calls terrorism, and that he’s horrified on their behalf at the collapse of the case of John Downey at the Old Bailey for the Hyde Park bombings in 1982. I ‘m equally sure the UUP’s Tom Elliott is sincere in his denunciation of the letters to some 200 on-the-runs which assure them they will not be prosecuted, just as I’m sure Jim Allister is sincere when he denounces the whole affair as more of “the rotten skulduggery behind the peace process”.

I am also sure that when a politician opens his mouth, he does so with one eye on the next election. The three sincere men I’ve listed above probably do care about the families of the Hyde Park victims (they’ve met with them, you say, Virginia? I didn’t know that), but they know where votes come from in this tortured green corner: they come from bashing the opposition over the head with a saucepan or something heavier. In this case, the heads that are exposed for a bashing are those of republicans and Sinn Féin, and you need have no worries about the elbow grease Peter and Tom and Jim and others will put into that swing.

Their joint cry is that the relatives will not have justice  – that is, John Downey nor no-one else will serve a period in prison that matches the events of Hyde Park so long ago. They’re right – they won’t. And even had the court found Downey guilty, he’d still have served just two years in prison, which no doubt in the eyes of the relatives would not have been justice.

But it can’t be said too often: that’s what we all signed up to in the Good Friday Agreement.  Of course as a loved one this is bitter medicine – but it’s the best medicine that could be produced to bring an end, by and large, to our Troubles. Moving pictures of humans or dead horses or outraged politicians don’t change that.  So unionist politicians didn’t know the question of on-the-runs had been resolved in this way. Was that way any harder to stomach than the release of convicted prisoners such as Pat Magee, the Brighton bomber?

What unionist politicians should feel bitter about – and learn from – is that Britain doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what they think or want or feel:  it does what it sees fit and what is for its own good.  It was not, it judged, in its own interests to see more British soldiers dying in this little place and so they did what they deemed necessary.  It’s no doubt a submerged awareness of this lofty disregard that is agitating unionist politicians this morning. That, and the election, stupid. 


18 Responses to What makes Peter, Tom and Jim mad

  1. giordanobruno February 26, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    The cynical response would be to say like Captain Renault in Casablanca “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on”.
    So while we are hardly surprised by this it still seems like a grubby little deal.
    What do we say to victims who suspect that one of those on the runs was involved in taking the life of their family members?
    The secret nature of the deal gave them no opportunity to make any intervention about it.
    This cannot be good either for families of Bloody Sunday victims, or indeed Ballymurphy.
    We can easily imagine the argument being formulated that they should expect no different than the Hyde Park families.

    • Páid February 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      “The secret nature of the deal gave them no opportunity to make any intervention about it”

      Gio that’s the whole reason it was secret so that they could get it out of the road and settled and that the relatives couldn’t upset the applecart.

      “This cannot be good either for families of Bloody Sunday victims, or indeed Ballymurphy.”

      You can rest assured that the soldiers involved in these murders will not spend a minute before the courts never mind a day in jail.

      “We can easily imagine the argument being formulated that they should expect no different than the Hyde Park families.”

      You may have a good point there and maybe the reason for this exposure at this time, bear in mind that Mr Downey has travelled though English airports on 4 or 5 previous occassions and was never detained!

    • Jude Collins February 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      I don’t see why this deal is grubbier than that of releasing men convicted of similar violent actions. After all, those released under the GFA had been convicted (whether validly or not is another question); the otrs were not convicted and, according to the letters sent to them, not suspected of anything. So I’m not sure why non-convicted/innocent men being allowed to go free is worse than those convicted/guilty (mebbe). There is a HUGE amount of pre-election posturing going on here. And of course the fact that it happened in England and not here, and that it involved the death of horses, adds to the emotional, illogical mix…

      • giordanobruno February 27, 2014 at 9:33 am #

        It is grubby to me because it was not known about .Certainly not by the families looking for justice, and seemingly not by the Unionist parties .
        Whatever you think of them they surely had a right to know?
        The release of convicted prisoners was known about and widely aired.
        Now we are looking at another election being fought on legacy issues rather than our failing health system, jobs, public transport etc etc.

  2. Colman February 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Call it a hunch but I suspect Robinson and others in the DUP leadership knew there was a resolution to the OTR issue.
    They were happy for it to stay quiet and hoped it would remain outside the public domain so they could continue governing with Sinn Féin.

    Now that it has been revealed that the OTR’s have a get out of jail card to escape prosecution, the DUP has gone on attack as the best form of defense.

    This is a perfect opportunity to seize on the emotions of the British public who were, as I recall at the time, more horrified at the sight of the slaughter of the Queen’s horses than they were about the four soldiers who perished in the incident.

    Not just electioneering going on here, but an opportunity to capitalize on the emotions of outraged British citizens across the water and use it an excuse to bin Haas, gain advantage on flags, parades, policing, security, and whatever other concessions they can wring from this Tory government.

    It is cynical but Unionist politicians will leverage the indignation of the British public and use every trick in the orange playbook for their advantage.

    Expect major concessions to Peter, Mervyn, and Jamie in the weeks ahead..

  3. Paul February 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Of course members of the IRA did serve time for acts against the British state. Unlike them however British soldiers were not only not charged or imprisoned for killing innocent catholics, in many cases they were promoted and given medals for a job well done.

  4. daniel moran February 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Jude. This is truly humiliating for unionists as they find themselves facing the contempt from London who know, and DUP/UUP/TUV know that which is that a referendum on NI in the unk would return a big smack in the mouth. They have to lump it and pretend their British masters couldn’t give tuppence for them or their victims of IRA.The reason the deal was done after 96 was to prevent any more attacks on the City of london, and shows the British knew they hadn’t defeated the IRA. Hain’s description yesterday of having to negotiate with those in SF whose army London couldn’t beat militarily, is proof of the ‘ddirty deal’ as Robbo called it, being necessary to London, a heavy and sickening blow for unionism.

  5. angela February 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I despair when I see this faux outrage. When will the british government stand up to this posturing and tell the dup and uup where to go. Will Peter threaten. not only to bring down the power sharing assembley but bring 100k men onto the streets.

  6. michael February 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    unionist outrage is selective in what it wants to be outraged at if it suits their narrow minded agenda then its outrage for street theatre purposes they know its all about balance one for themuns one for us thats the way it is to keep this charade going

  7. DaddyPobbin February 26, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    The DUP knew about all cards on the table and would have walked away from Stormont over most of them, but there was only one choice before them – with or without them. The DUP knew about OTR’s but they were probably ignorant of the letter sent to John Downey and the mistake made by the PSNI and the NIO. Sad as it is for victims, and there is still campaigns for Bloody Sunday, Enniskillen, Omagh, Ballymurphy etc. we have to move on. Threatening to resign over this, from Robinson doesn’t do anyone favours. What about the majority who want stable governance and a normal life here? Why let the past scupper that?

    Jim Allister quotes on his website from Jonathan Powell’s memoirs (Tony Blair’s chief of staff) http://tuv.org.uk/downey-case-the-stormont-fallout/ The DUP knew full well about the policy on letters to OTR’s and tried to have it played out so they could plausibly deny it.

    See the quote: http://i58.tinypic.com/wgw5xt.jpg

    So this faux outrage is electioneering at best!

  8. michael c February 26, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I see Durkin spouting about “dirty deals” next Trying in vain to make himself and his pathetic party relevant.

  9. ANOTHER JUDE February 26, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    A letter writer in the Irish News (you know, the newspaper that refuses to put the fada in Sinn Féin) described the arrangement between Martin and Peter as being like a loveless marriage. Couldn`t put it better myself. Now Peter is threatening to run away to mother, because Martin didn`t tell him everything. It amazes me how Sinn Féin put up with the posturing and faux outrages of their so called partners, everyone remembers the name of that horse, Sefton, they even produced a Christmas card over there in 1982 and the poor old horse`s wounds glistened red with glitter, I kid you not. Of course the names of the dead British soldiers are long ago forgotten, if they were EVER known. The best part of the story is the look on the faces of Unionist politicians as they realise they have been treated like any other Irish man/woman. The worst? Mark Durkin showing us exactly why the conflict dragged on for so long, sounding outraged at both parties to the deal.

    • Argenta February 26, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      I’m not sure how Mark Durkan can be blamed for the latest debacle.While it’s probably not popular to say it on this blogspot, I would have thought that the D U P and Sinn Fein bear some of the responsibility.

  10. paddykool February 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Jude ……I can’t believe it….I go across the water for a few days and all hell breaks loose…Resignations threatened and all!!!,

    Hopefully these buffers and puppets will get back the run of themselves before I get back.
    You’d think they’ never watched an episode of “House of Cards” or “Yes Minister”….

    They are sounding like a bunch of spoilt brats…..amateur hour politicians who are realising they’ve been playing with the big boys and lost the ball…….

  11. chris flynn February 26, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    So whats all the fuss about???Did peter punt not know about the deal??Did his friends in the psni not tell him about it??Its policits peter,as a policitian you must know that you are either screwing the opposition or beening screwed by them.Grow up and help the people to readjust to peace.We want a future not reminders of our bloody past.Get on with the job of securing the future…too many people have died, to go back to clan warfare or public strife is unthinkable..

  12. John Murphy February 27, 2014 at 1:42 am #

    Some things Unionists do very well, get Angry
    (1), They are always very Angry about anything that they don’t like, for example Nationalists’ (Just Irish Nationalists of course)
    (2) They are very Angry about Flags
    (3) They are very Angry about parading, especially walking passed Catholic churches
    (4) They are very Angry about parading up and down roads through Nationalist Areas
    (5) They are very Angry about prisoner release’s especially Nationalist prisoners
    O My GOD!
    I need to stop writing I’ve only just realised they are just Really Really Angry aren’t they.

  13. hoboroad February 27, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    I don’t recall to many Unionists complaining when Sean O’Callaghan received the Royal Pardon. Peter Robinson is either a incompetent nitwit or a barefaced liar.

    • DaddyPobbin February 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      Sean O’Callaghan, their golden boy.