By Brian Feeney (for the Irish News)
Anyone reading yesterday’s British government command paper, ‘Addressing the Legacy of NI’s Past’, should be warned to keep a suitable receptacle nearby to contain the disgusting product of the nausea this exercise in hypocrisy, doublethink and colonial condescension will induce.
Orwell’s definition of doublethink, among other deplorable aspects, is the ability to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancel each other out, knowing them to be contradictory yet apparently believing in both of them. The outstanding example in the paper is the belief, repeated by the proconsul, that the current system for addressing the past “is not working for anyone”, while at the same time refusing to work the system agreed by all parties and the Irish government seven years ago and having reneged on the commitment in the New Decade Same Approach con job to legislate for it within 100 days. So, as a result of the British government’s perfidy there is no system to work.
The command paper is a foetid smokescreen hiding a stinking pile of rubbish. The British government decision is already taken. Despite the façade of consultation they will bring in legislation in October which isn’t designed for anyone here and won’t work for anyone here. It’s designed to work for the Colonel Blimps in the Conservative party and no one else. It takes a strong stomach to stand up in parliament and claim otherwise. Simon Coveney says it’s not a fait accompli; but it is.
The legislation will be imposed over the heads of people here as a classic piece of colonialism to protect the behaviour of the colonists. It’s not even top down. None of the proposals come from people here: it will be unworkable here, but the British don’t care. The consequences here are irrelevant to this shameless Conservative government.
None of it will work except the part that matters to the Conservative party – an amnesty for their soldiers who killed people here. The planned ‘information recovery’ scheme will be boycotted by republicans. One of the many laughable paragraphs, paragraph 20, says, ‘disclosure cannot be one sided and we would expect all relevant parties to make a similar commitment to cooperation and to providing disclosure.’ Yeah right. Former IRA members and MI5 will form a queue. The ‘major oral history initiative’ is just a piece of patronising double standards. Come and tell your story but we won’t do anything about it. No perpetrators will participate.
Some of the amnesty proposals will shock even cynical observers of British bad faith. For example, paragraph 34 bars not just the police, but even the Police Ombudsman from investigating ‘Troubles-related incidents’. That’s pretty wide, eh? Then there’s par. 38, a stunner: ‘end judicial activity in relation to Troubles-related conduct across the spectrum of criminal cases, and current and future civil cases and inquests.’ Wow.
No mention how any of this will be compatible with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Then again, the British don’t care.
The proconsul is the guy who announced he was planning to break international law ‘in a limited and specific way’.