Goodbye justice, hello peace?

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Oh dear. I’ve just switched off The Stephen Nolan Show (Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh), where  Stephen is telling Raymond McCartney that Sinn Féin are wanting one rule for former IRA men, another rule for unionists. Clearly there’s still a lot of heat if not much light in the on-the-runs story. Maybe that’s because a number of matters haven’t been brought to the front of our thinking.

By the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, it was arranged that political prisoners be released – republican paramilitary prisoners, loyalist/unionist paramilitary prisoners. These were men who had been active during the conflict and convicted, in many instances, of killing people. So little justice there, you might say. But we all swallowed hard and accepted that this was necessary for peace. The OTRs, on the other hand, were not in prison. If they had been, they wouldn’t have been on the run. So they weren’t benefiting from the virtual amnesty that released paramilitary prisoners who were in prison. The letter deal aimed to resolve that, and was resolving it, until Peter of Clontibret’s jets suddenly got red-hot.

Some other matters to keep in mind. The on-the-runs were wanted for questioning about violent incidents. They may have been responsible for those violent incidents or they may not. We don’t know, so aren’t people who haven’t been convicted supposed to be presumed innocent until it’s otherwise shown? Yet the way the OTRs are talked about by Peter and Nigel and the other Hot Jets, you’d assume each and every one of these men had been tried and convicted.

So let’s go with that for a minute. The men receive a letter from the authorities here telling them they are not wanted for any crime by any police force. Are those sending the letters  telling a blatant lie when they tell these men this? If so, shouldn’t there be more finger-pointing at people who tell official lies? If they are telling the truth, why the heat in so many jets?

The word ‘justice’ comes up in an article in this morning’s Irish Times, suggesting that these letters mean the loved ones of victims will not get justice. If the OTRs are guilty (not proven), then yes, that’s true, they won’t get justice. Just as the relatives of those killed by the paramilitaries released from Long Kesh won’t get justice. We’ve all known that for fifteen years now and we’ve accepted it as the price we have to pay as a society for peace. Why then are we being encouraged to be indignant on behalf of the relatives perhaps affected by actions of OTRs, when they received their letter? Assuming they are guilty – and it is only that as we’ve seen, an assumption – doesn’t it fall into the same category as the men released from Long Kesh?

The Attorney General John Larkin and now former Secretary of State Peter Hain have called for the non-prosecution of the soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday, a drawing of a line on all sides so we can move forward. Reluctantly, I agree. Not because I think Bloody Sunday falls into the same category as, say, the Warrenpoint massacre or the mortar-bombing of Newry police station. It doesn’t, for the very good reason that we demand that the people we pay to protect us don’t do the very opposite. But I go along with drawing a line because prosecuting the Bloody Sunday soldiers will never in a hundred years expose the people who really are responsible for that terrible day, because they were so high up the food chain, they were untouchable.  Most Bloody Sunday relatives must know that.

So no, there hasn’t been justice and there won’t be justice. But if we want peace and progress, we’re going to have to accept its absence. You never really thought it would be otherwise, did you?

 

35 Responses to Goodbye justice, hello peace?

  1. Pat March 3, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Another good piece Jude. Nolan is just a sensationalist shock jock with no real interest in the issues.
    Justice may well be unobtainable but the truth should be made available.

  2. spelling bee March 3, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Its know. Not no. That doctorate isn’t the cure all, after all. 🙂

  3. Gerard March 3, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Jude you have a ‘no’ when it should be a ‘know’ – end of second last paragraph. No need to show this post – from Grammar freak!

  4. Jude Collins March 3, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Thank you, spelling bee and Gerard – and no (or is it ‘know’), I don’t mind my frailties being exposed. You’re quite right, sb – doctorates cure nothing. A bit like medical doctors that way…

  5. paddykool March 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Jude:
    “The men receive a letter from the authorities here telling them they are not wanted for any crime by any police force.

    Perfidious Albion again, I suppose. It can be interpreted as “not yet anyway” until we find more evidence somewhere , somehow , sometime in a never never future when nobody can remember what this whole thing was about in the first place….and hopefully everyone concerned will be long dead.
    In other words it was a fine bit of nebulous double-speak that would keep everyone happy while the peace process unfolded.The kind of little fiction the mandarins of Westminster are very good at.
    That was never the problem .Anyone dealing with the British knows how this all works .It should be mandatory for everyone in Ireland to read the fine series of swashbuckling “Flashman” books to get behind the scenes of comical British History. what an education thet are….No…don’t tell me it’s all fiction!

    The biggest problem here is that unionism has never really wanted to engage in a peace process. They want to pretend to themselves that everything in Northern Ireland was fine until there was a sort of cosmic “Big Bang” around 1968 or 1969 that they had nothing to do with. While the world and his cat was supporting civil rights in America and South Africa, somehow they got the shitty end of the stick here and decided to batter , , gas ,and shoot Civil rights marchers off the streets .

    For a group of so-called Biblical-influenced people imbued with the “Christian ideal” ,,they’ve never been able to admit to themselves that they made the immoral, unchristian choice .

    After doing so it was only a series of steps before accepting the chaos that ensued….the unlawful gaoling during internment of one side of the community and so on.Both sides of the conflict had a growing core of individuals who thought that killing each other would somehow solve the problem.This quite obviously led to a reciprocal slaughter that could literally have churned on for another fifty years given the background of stored armaments . The British didn’t want to supply any more of their own young uneducated bodies to this charnel house when there would be bigger slaughter houses to fill in the likes of Iraq {which PM Tony Blair just couldn’t wait to get into with his buddy President Bush.}

    Bringing it up to date a mere few months ago , Mr Haass was brought in , basically to prove to anyone who didn’t yet believe that the unionists had no intention of taking any responsibility for anything, Even forty years later, they don’t get it. Haass laboured for six months to try and sweeten the medicine they would have to take and produced a delightfully woolly set of possibilities that would get the job done without literally confronting them with the bare bones reality that they had to take some responsibility for the “Troubles”. They baulked at that too.Well we knew they would but it had to be recorded.

    Is it really any wonder that “The letter to the On the Runs” was left similarly “woolly” and open to interpretation.?

    Unionists cannot accept any responsibility that both sides of the past conflict have to be forgiven together before we can have anything remotely normal here.To say that unionists knew nothing of how the British Establishment mindset of doublespeak operates is to betray either an inherent political naivete on their part ,or a mock- horror of dubious acting skills and faux anger which they decided to use for purely selfish party reasons. For most of us , we’ve seen it all before.
    .Unionists still want a Stone Age , Old Testament style revenge for something which they are in large part , responsible for setting in train ,, which of course, will not change a thing and will not benefit any of our future lives..

  6. neill March 3, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    So no, there hasn’t been justice and there won’t be justice. But if we want peace and progress, we’re going to have to accept its absence. You never really thought it would be otherwise, did you?

    Yes that appears to be the case however in the course of time we will i suspect regret this greatly without justice being seen to be done fully we will leave a nasty residue which will seep slowly into society

  7. paddykool March 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    Jude :
    Just an afterthought..Iwas out of the loop last week so I only heard of the shenanigans in Norn Ireland from an English perspective , when it featured at al….l

    .I was reminded of an expression and related story my late mother, a countrywoman, used to tell about a wee boy ,who when huffing with his own mother in an attempt to extort more sweets, would not hold his breath until he went blue, …Instead he would cry…. “If you don’t give me them …i’ll…let the pig eat me!!”, …which of course brought on gales of laughter at this little pocket ranter..I wonder was our own Peter Robinson in any way related to said child.

  8. paddykool March 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Jude :
    Just an afterthought..I was out of the loop last week so I only heard of the shenanigans in Norn Ireland from an English media perspective , when it featured at all….l

    .I was reminded of an expression and related story my late mother, a countrywoman, used to tell about a wee boy ,who when huffing with his own mother in an attempt to extort more sweets, would not hold his breath until he went blue, …Instead he would cry…. “If you don’t give me them …i’ll…let the pig eat me!!”, …which of course brought on gales of laughter at this little pocket ranter..I wonder was our own Peter Robinson in any way related to said child.

  9. paddykool March 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Jude …sorry about the double offering ..bloody technology…!!!

  10. ben madigan March 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    what the events of the past week have shown is that the DUP etc mindsets are unsuited to the “sharing” culture of the GFA/Belfast Agreement.

    • neill March 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      In fairness they campaigned and voted against the GFA so they would say they are not honour bound to it

      • ben madigan March 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

        they are bound by it – it was passed in a referendum. It is now the only set-up in town – for as long as it lasts.
        They agreed to go into the power-sharing arrangement – “mental reservations” do I hear? Surely that’s some form of DUPlicity?

  11. paddykool March 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Neill :
    “In fairness they campaigned and voted against the GFA so they would say they are not honour bound to it”

    “Honor bound” ..It’s stretching credulity to even discuss a word like “honour” in the context of politics but we’ll let that one go. thw cynic in me still sees politics as the art of the possible..Otherwise why bother at all ? what do unionists want in place of an agreement for everyone? They had to be steered into signing up to agree in the first place or as I said elsewhere the crazies on both sides would have kept on killing for another couple of generations….Help us, they may get started again if these duffers do not learn a few political skills quickly..we got into the mess in the first place because they couldn’t cut a deal .The buggers couldn’t sell a apacket of sweets , never mind something that would make all our lives better.

  12. michael c March 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I see Durkan now calling the murdering b~~~~~~~ of the parachute regiment “the security forces”.How low can he and his pathetic party go.

    • Argenta March 3, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

      Michael C
      Your comment above seems quite similiar to that of “Sean Tracey” on Slugger O’Toole.Could you be one and the same person or is Connolly House not sufficiently inventive to vary its attacks on those who dare to question the bona fides of Sinn Fein?!!

  13. giordanobruno March 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Jude
    Surely one obvious difference is that the victims families (and the rest of us )were kept in the dark about this deal. Families of victims of the Hyde Park bombing and other atrocities, including possibly the Birmingham pub bombings, were not told as far as we know that some suspects were no longer being actively pursued.
    Do you not think victims families deserve to be kept informed of such significant developments?

    • Jude Collins March 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

      Gio – do you think the Devenney family deserve to know who killed their father in his own living-room?

      • giordanobruno March 4, 2014 at 8:13 am #

        Jude
        Poor whataboutery. I do of course think the Devenney family deserve justice as do the Bloody Sunday families and the Hyde Park families.
        Now how about it? Don’t you think this little deal which SF were party to , is a slap in the face to victims who might expect to be kept informed about their cases?

  14. ANOTHER JUDE March 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    There has never been `justice` in the north. The Unionists are living in cloud cuckoo land. Internment, informers, assassinations, murder gangs driving around Belfast shooting innocent civilians, yes we have seen all these. Please do not confuse British rule with justice. As for Durkin and Atwood and co. they are the reasons why the conflict lasted so long. The victims of Hyde Park, human and animal, are used by Unionist politicians, Jim Allister only gave Anne Travers the time of day because her sister was shot by the IRA. Had she been killed by loyalists/Brits he would not have been interested. Likewise the cases of Robert McCartney and the `disappeared`. Until the Unionists accept that Nationalists regard their beloved `security forces` as the bad guys we will be stuck in this cycle of whataboutery. I nearly choked on my cornflakes this morning when I heard Peter Hain call for the murderers of the Bloody Sunday victims to be given an amnesty. Peter, it is 2014 not 1975. I think we can safely say they already have their` get out of any interest in what you did` card.

    • Argenta March 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Another Jude
      Perhaps you could give us a reasoned explanation as to why you think Alex Attwood and Mark Durkan were ” the reasons why the conflict lasted so long”?Do you not accept that the paramilitaries had some role in the length of the conflict ?

  15. giordanobruno March 4, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    Another Jude
    “As for Durkin and Atwood and co. they are the reasons why the conflict lasted so long. ”
    Priceless. The conflict could have been ended at any time by the men with guns.
    But in your world it is the non violent politicians who prolonged it. We are through the looking glass now.

    • neill March 4, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      that thought crossed my mind….

  16. paul March 4, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Should not the ” forces of the state” be held to a higher standard? Are they not responsible for keeping”law and order”?

    • paddykool March 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      Paul :
      The “forces of the state” have to be held to a higher standard, but it’s a sad fact that most of those forces were garnered from the most poorly- educated sources in no-hope sink – estates..It’s an only outlet for many young men and women but it carries a responsibility to the greater society which many other jobs do not.
      .
      Some of them may not be capable of highly reasoned debate and may resort to violence at the first slight. They may, at times ,be hard to control too but they are essentially paid to take orders from someone who is supposed to know better and guide them….

      Of course , the fact that they are paid a wage by the society they work for has to be factored in. We pay them to look after our best interests after all.We give them a job and possibly provide accommodation. The idea of paying them , for example ., to shoot us down in the streets with the very weaponry we supply and train them with wouldn’t sit too well with with most of us.

      The fact is though, that sometimes happens.

      To take on that kind of responsibility requires a special kind of morality{which is part of the deal but is sometimes sadly lacking} …so why should they be treated like someone like a a “terrorist” or a “professional criminal” who society is not paying a wage to, In the end , they are in a special position ,a special case, which society has created for them so they cannot be treated the same as everyone else.. They need to be beyond reproach and sometimes they are not.There is nothing to be gained by equating them { police or soldiers} with someone whom we do not employ.

    • giordanobruno March 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      paul
      I would say yes the forces of law and order should be held to a very high standard. It is odd though that a group of men and women who saw themselves as the legitimate army of Ireland did not try to maintain at least as high a standard as perfidious albion. The PIRA let down the people of Ireland again and again and again.
      I would also suggest that families of victims don’t care too much which group committed the crime against them All they want is justice.

  17. michael c March 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    Argenta,, it was treacy’s post on slugger that drew my attention to Durkans treachery.If you agree with someones comments on another site and highlight them on this site,does that make you and them the same person?

    • Argenta March 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Michael C
      Remind me again,what was Mark Durkans alleged ” treachery”?

  18. ANOTHER JUDE March 4, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Argenta,
    By delaying the direct talks between the so called extremists, ie, Sinn Féin and the DUP, the SDLP were allowing the idea to fester that maybe the Nationalists would abandon the Republican movement completely, don`t forget the Anglo Irish Agreement was merely the latest in a long line of British attempts to alienate Republicans. I am not saying the SDLP were to blame directly but let`s face it we had plenty of rubbish attempts to get the Paisleyites to share power with the likes of Fitt and Hume. They were not interested. As far as political violence goes every party supported it. Even Alliance.

    • giordanobruno March 5, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Another Jude
      I don’t know why the British would have wanted to alienate Republicans at that time. What would it gain them. As an attempt to alienate Republicans it was remarkably successful in alienating Unionists.
      The Anglo Irish agreement stated there would be no change in the status of NI unless the people voted for it. Sound familiar?
      If the violence had stopped then, what loss to the Republican cause would there have been?

  19. Argenta March 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Another Jude
    I appreciate that you feel obliged on all occasions to represent what you claim is/was the Sinn Fein position but I have to say your logic is a bit muddled as Gio above has pointed out.Initially you blamed Attwood and Durkan for prolonging the conflict.Your subsequent comment read “I’m not saying the S D L P were to blame directly”.You still have to attempt to justify the role of the paramilitaries over the decades.Do you not feel that they had some responsibility in the length of the conflict?

  20. michael c March 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Argenta, Durkans treachery was to label those who slaughtered his fellow Derry citizens : “the security forces”.Ask any of the bloody Sunday families what they call the paras and I don’t think “security forces ” will spring to mind.

    • Argenta March 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

      Michael C
      You must really learn not to exaggerate and be more precise in your use of words such as ” treachery”.One dictionary has defined it as ” an act of deliberate betrayal”. In my estimation ,Mark Durkan and before him John Hume both played honourable parts in the Bloody Sunday campaign.This may not suit your narrative which seems to suggest that Sinn Fein was responsible for all the progress of that campaign .To accuse Mark of ” treachery ” is well over the top.

  21. michael c March 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Now , Durkan wouldn’t exaggerate would he?

    • Argenta March 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      Michael C
      No ,it wouldn’t be his normal practice unlike some others one could mention!

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