Loathing and absence in Belfast Crown Court

To risk being pedantic: if no other good comes from the supergrass trial that began in Belfast yesterday, at least the practice of referring to informers as ‘informants’ will have been dropped. Or I hope so. I don’t read all the papers but those I do, if they have to use the i word, it’s been ‘informer’. Why was ‘informant’ ever used? Because ‘informer’ has resonances that ripple back through Irish history and the authorities didn’t want it to trigger the contempt it did.

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