By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)
It’s interesting that no one has accused our proconsul of deliberately or provocatively choosing almost exactly the forty-fifth anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry, indeed the day the annual commemorative march took place, to publish his latest attack on victims of British state violence.
No one has made that accusation because no one would give him the credit of even being aware of the coincidence of the date he chose, when British soldiers killed most innocent victims in Ireland. You have to go back a long way to find a proconsul as directionless as the current specimen. Humphrey Atkins comes to mind but he’s thirty-five years ago and no one remembers him.
There are other similarities apart from ineptitude. Atkins was sent to do Lady Hacksaw’s precise bidding and not step a millimetre beyond. The same with our present incumbent who’s here obviously not for any political sparkle but as someone abjectly loyal to Theresa May for six years at the Home Office. There his main achievement appears to have been as a superior class of security man at the London Olympics.
So why has he made these attacks on the victims of state killings? There are no votes for him here.
Unfortunately he’s not humble enough to realise that he couldn’t get himself elected anywhere in the north so he can’t speak for anyone here. However he obviously believes if he toes May’s Daily Mail line on soldiers there are votes in England, doesn’t matter what the consequences are here.
The consequences here are quite ‘clear’ to use a word he’s very fond of especially when the opposite is the case.
His latest excursion into vote winning in England produced instant division here. An enthusiastic welcome for the rubbish he wrote in the Sunday Torygraph from the usual suspects like Jeffrey Donaldson with his family’s military connections and other ex-military types in the UUP but a hostile response from nationalists. This predictable reaction produced by a guy who had the temerity to advise candidates here not to engage in divisive language or behaviour in the assembly election campaign. Disgraceful.
There’s a danger of using the word ‘substance’ to address the garbage that this proconsul retailed in the newspaper article. However it’s important to repudiate in detail what he wrote. ‘I am clear (that weasel word again) that the current system [of dealing with the past] is not working.’ In fact it’s not the case that it’s not working. The fact is there is no agreed system and that’s mainly because of a conspiracy between the NIO and DUP to ensure there is no agreement because the British government introduced ‘national security’ as a reason for not investigating legacy cases. How national security can be an issue in cases all at least a generation old is a mystery to everyone but the NIO.
Our proconsul’s claim, no doubt he’s ‘clear’ about that too, that there’s a ‘disproportionate’ emphasis on state killings is just plain wrong. As the DPP said, ‘the reality is that we have prosecuted more legacy cases connected with paramilitary cases than we have in respect of military cases.’ The truth is you can count the number of former soldiers prosecuted on the fingers of one hand. Yet English newspapers have invented a fantasy figure of potentially 1,000 in line for prosecution.
To engage in a campaign against carefully structured institutions like the Police Ombudsman, the DPP and the north’s Lord Chief Justice is despicable politics. Not one figure produced by our proconsul stands up to scrutiny.
Then again we come back to his position here, sent simply to do the prime minister’s bidding. Nothing he says or writes is complete without parroting a phrase from Theresa May like ‘borders of the past’, ‘our precious union’, and now ‘rewriting the past’.
Sadly May’s limitations became all too apparent in the last week. Her craven abasement before Trump, her inability to think on her feet when questioned about his stupid travel ban, her incoherent catch-up as the rest of the world condemned his actions. No chance she’ll be able to tell our proconsul how to resurrect the executive because he doesn’t know.