Is Boris Johnson an aberration, or does he present a picture of the normal British politician? Some of his fans would say the former, adding that there’s no one like Boris. Some of his critics would say the former, also saying there’s no one like Boris. Apart from Trump, of course.
It seems to me Johnson is aiming to put himself up there, not just with Churchill but with Thatcher. As she enraged the forces of unionism by signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, so he has enraged the present-day forces of unionism – OK, the DUP – by requiring some extra form-filling on goods between our sweet stateen and Britain. Or, more vividly put, he’s built a border in the Irish Sea.
The word now is, Johnson says there’ll be no form-filling. Sin é, full stop.
Having initially enraged the DUP and now attempted to get them back onside, Johnson is now set to enrage nationalists/republicans (although by and large nationalists/republicans don’t really do the enraged thing at the masterly level the DUP displays). Johnson is going to change the law so that legal action can’t be taken against British army veterans.
What is an army veteran? Someone who was involved in “an incident” prior to 2000. What’s more, military personnel and their families will get all sorts of help in education and employment that ordinary people who haven’t been trained to kill other people will not have.
I could go on about preferential support for trained killers over ordinary people but I won’t. I’ll confine myself to the fact that Johnson has promised, if his Tory Party is elected, that he will amend the Human Rights Act so it doesn’t apply to events that occurred during the Troubles.
How can he say this and not bend his head in shame? Easily. The present situation is that there are repeated investigation into the same ‘incidents’ involving trained British killers in Ireland, and this is clearly unjust.
On the face of it, that seems reasonable – which is why it’s crucial to consider context and background. Think back to the deaths of ten people in Ballymurphy. What was the judgement there? The British army was fired on. Think back to Bloody Sunday in Derry, where fourteen people were shot dead. What was the judgement there? The British army was fired on. Think of the thirty-three people killed in the Dublin/Monaghan bombs? The loyalists paramilitaries, unaided by trained British killers, did it. Think of the dozens of people killed by the Glenanne gang? Loyalist paramilitaries, unaided by trained British killers, did it. Think of the death of Pat Finucane? Loyalist parmilitaries, unaided by trained British killers, did it.
The list goes on. Johnson’s thinking appears to be that if trained British killers who killed dozens of innocent Irish people got away with it through investigations like the Widgery Tribunal, then that should be enough for anyone. How grossly unfair to pursue frail elderly men who might find it hard to remember just how many innocent Irish people they killed back in the day.
Johnson is going to amend the Human Rights Act so he can protect these injustices? It’s at times like these you realize that British interference in Irish matters, working at all levels, is toxic. Any political party or politician in Ireland who can’t see that and won’t say that doesn’t deserve to be elected.
But let’s end on a positive note. Now that Margaret Ritchie has found
her way into the House of Lords, those seeking justice for innocent victims of trained British killers can rest easy. There ain’t nothing like a Dame.