Irish government can help deliver real progress on legacy killings

Posted By: July 04, 2018


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Theresa May’s government has failed to act ‘with rigorous impartiality.’…

The Conservatives bear the most responsibility for the irresponsibility, but the Irish government of Enda Kenny has a lot to answer for since they set The North adrift lest they be seen as supporting Sinn Féin.

Brian Feeney.  Irish News. Belfast.  Wednesday, July 4, 2018
 When faced with two conflicting propositions for circumventing the deadlock here what does the British government do?

Examine each proposition on its merits and decide which to act on? No chance with a Conservative government and certainly not with this one, the worst, most shambolic, chaotic, squabbling bunch in living memory shamefully propped up by the DUP.

Since 2010 when couldn’t-care-less Cameron became prime minister, we’ve watched the Conservatives repeat all the same mistakes they made in the 1980s. Those are principally summed up as siding with unionists despite the solemn commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to act ‘with rigorous impartiality.’

Cameron walked away as far as he could from that impartiality, first seducing the doomed UUP into the laughable UCUNF which resulted in the UUP being wiped out. Having wrecked the UUP, he then switched to the DUP hoping they’d support him if there were a coalition.

To that end he backed them, blocking any progress on equality legislation or legacy matters in the north thereby encouraging his own ex-army blimps to demand an exemption for soldiers likely to be charged with criminal offenses during the Troubles. Theresa May’s unnecessary dirty deal with the DUP in 2017 merely formalized the biased direction of travel since 2010 which has in effect abandoned all the lessons learned in the 1980s.

The chief lesson built upon since 1985 is that the closer the link to the Irish government the better. That both keeps the British honest and at the same time provides British governments with the best advice on how to handle the north. When the two governments speak with one voice matters here are at their most stable. The reverse is demonstrably true. QED.

The Conservatives bear the most responsibility for the irresponsibility, but the Irish government of Enda Kenny has a lot to answer for since they set the north adrift lest they be seen as supporting Sinn Féin. The worst example of that was their hands-off approach during the ‘fleg’ protests in 2013 when former Stickie Eamon Gilmore twiddled his thumbs.

At no time did the Irish government press for the convening of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) despite the GFA stipulating that ‘there will be regular and frequent meetings.’ The BIIGC was devised as a failsafe mechanism if devolution failed. Basically, the two governments would run The North as was happening increasingly under John Major and Albert Reynolds.

Now, at last, another meeting has been scheduled for July 25. Ah, but it’s only to deal with non-devolved matters you say. Yes, but it can discuss anything, and the Irish can put forward views and proposals dealing with all-island and cross-border cooperation. Unfortunately the British see the meeting merely as a balancing act after they’ve stuffed the DUP’s maw with more of the loot Theresa May bought them with.

Nonetheless, there is a real chance of progress on legacy matters if the Irish government play their cards properly. Investigating state killings during the Troubles as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) requires is not a devolved matter although by a sleekit[sly] sleight of hand the British have sought to pretend it is. They’ve deliberately conflated state killings with all killings as if they’re the same. They’re not. Under Article 2 of the ECHR, the British government is required to carry out proper investigations. Ironically the case precedent is the SAS killings of the Gibraltar Three. The ECHR decided the British were at fault because they could have devised a plan to arrest the IRA they shot dead in cold blood.

It wasn’t a Stormont administration which signed the ECHR and is responsible for such investigations. It can only be a sovereign government which subscribes to the ECHR, and that’s Westminster, namely Theresa May. So the BIIGC can discuss that matter. Besides, it’s a cross-border matter. Consider the role of the British proxy gang of RUC/UVF/UDR killers now known by the name of the Glenanne gang and whose members were responsible for the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. The British have allowed successive chief constables to refuse to examine the Glenanne gang killings thematically as the Historical Enquiries Team started to do.

Yet,  it’s the British government which is legally obliged to investigate.