Should liars be asked to explain themselves?

I’ve just finished, over my mug of tea and home-made bread, an editorial in today’s Observer newspaper. It was a long and learned article about the Skripal poisoning, and talked about the unanimous backing of Britain by Western countries in its denunciation of Russia’s role in the poisoning of the Russian double-spy. It says this is an opening shot in a battle, not about “geo-strategic dominance but about truth and lies”.   At no point does it cite any evidence that Russia was involved in the poisoning. The newspaper doesn’t seem to see the need for that, and sees those who think differently as being the dupes of Russian propaganda.

This is amazing in some ways. The Observer would be regarded as a left-of-centre newspaper, and it hires some distinguished journalists. But it doesn’t see the need for evidence in a case which is crying out for evidence. It’s simply taken as fact that Russia was guilty and that Western countries see the importance of counter-acting Russian lies.

This kind of brazen refusal to even consider a need for evidence I find shocking – but not new. Cast your mind back to Bloody Sunday in the 1970s. Fourteen innocent people were mortally wounded in broad daylight by the Parachute Regiment. A few months earlier the same regiment had killed eleven innocent people in Ballymurphy, among them a priest trying to administer the last rites. Off-hand I can’t say for sure what was the reaction of the British army at the time to the Ballymurphy killings, but I can guess. Certainly in the Bloody Sunday case, the British army schooled its soldiers in what lies to repeat, issued lies about the dead having been carrying arms and petrol bombs. The Widgery Report, a supposedly factual and dispassionate account of what had happened, lied itself witless, again placing the blame about the victims.

The truth about Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday has come out, and British PM David Cameron has even issued an apology for Bloody Sunday. But no one in the British army has been held to account for the killings. And no one has ever even thought of demanding that those who clearly lied about what had happened should be held to account.

Which brings us back to today’s Observer. In cases where people are killed, there will of course be a competition between truth and lies. But are we asking too much when we demand that those caught out in their lies explain what they were up to?

There are literally hundreds of cases here where innocent people were killed during the Troubles and lies told about their deaths. Are those who lied about their deaths going to go unchallenged? That this is just business as usual and stop your moaning, oh what a MOPE (Most Oppressed People Ever) you are to be demanding inquests, to be demanding truth about the death of your loved one, to be demanding that those who lies should be called to account?

From An Gorta Mor to the present, the British have an appalling record of duplicity and lies in their dealings with the Irish people. It’s about bloody-well time these liars were called to account for their black propaganda. It’s about time we stopped shrugging our shoulders and started asking why, to quote Jeremy Paxman, ” these lying bastards are lying to us.” 


Here’s the Observer  editorial…Take a deep breath first.



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