UK News Welby played for a fool in talks which raise questions for DUP

16:45  05 december  2020
16:45  05 december  2020 Source:   newsletter.co.uk

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Such open mindedness is at the heart of Christianity.

a sign on a pole © it is a deep betrayal of the UK government to allow the Northern Ireland Office to be in these secre...

So it is not a surprise that the Archbishop of Canterbury has involved himself in the thorny issue of Northern Ireland’s legacy.

The problem is that the Lambeth Palace talks have excluded all sceptics of the legacy process who think it unbalanced against state forces.

In doing so it perpetuates a trend going back to 2018, and this newspaper’s Stop the Legacy Scandal essays. The series was open to anyone who thought legacy was being handled in such an unbalanced way as to be a scandal. Beyond that contributors wrote what they wanted.

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We ran essays from an ‘official’ republican Padraig Yeates, from the ex IRA man Shane Paul O’Doherty, from the churchmen Canon Ian Ellis and Rev Alan Irwin, from ex security force personnel such as Alan McQuillan and Col Tim Collins

There were essays from victims campaigners such as Kenny Donaldson, from politicians such as Doug Beattie and Jim Allister, from commentators such as Kevin Myers and Ruth Dudley Edwards.

We ran essays from victims such as Anne Graham (sister of Edgar) and Jackie Nicholl (his infant son was killed in an IRA bomb and he later quit the victims commission on finding he had been on beside an IRA bomber) and Anthony O’Reilly (sister murdered by loyalists).

There were essays from the lawyers including Austen Morgan and Neil Faris and academics such as Liam Kennedy and Henry Patterson.

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Pressure groups and revolutionaries can play a part. African American English came from a minority, mostly poor, often oppressed, all of whom were descended from a different language pool than English, and yet their expressions colonized the English language and not only of youth.

The legacy scandal series did not take a position on the 2014 Stormont House proposed legacy structures but anyone who read the full series would agree that the plan took a battering. Many writers thought Stormont House would not resolve the advantage the IRA has on legacy and might even worsen it.

Yet since that series there have been many legacy discussions on radio or TV which only included supporters of Stormont House.

By far the largest number of Troubles victims were murdered by republicans (2,100 out of 3,700). Some victims of such terror back Stormont House, but increasing numbers of them do not.

So when you hear a legacy broadcast that includes an IRA victim alongside republicans and others, it might seem balanced but it isn’t if the victim is pro Stormont House.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has presided over talks that does not include those who believe legacy is demonising state forces who prevented civil war.

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Six elderly soldiers are proceeding to homicide trials for single shooting incidents half a century ago while no IRA leader who orchestrated decades of murder is.

Every time an imbalance in these prosecutions is alleged a host of voices emerge to ‘prove’ not (the web version of this story will link to an article in which I detail why I think there is a charge imbalance).

The legacy scandal is far greater than soldier prosecutions, but the veteran element to legacy is at least easy to understand. Did Most Rev Justin Welby not pause to ask if any IRA leader faces trial? Why terror godfathers such as Brian Keenan, Kevin McKenna, Billy McKee, Martin McGuinness never served time commensurate with their boodshed. They were allowed to come off violence, after decades of it, at a time of their choosing, then to live out their days with no fear of arrest.

Did Archbishop Welby not wonder why the former victim commissioner Judith Thompson lost the faith of many victims (for reasons such as her not standing by above mentioned Mr Nicholl while the IRA bomber stayed on the forum)?

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Did it not occur to him to research the difference in outlook between victims groups such as WAVE and Kenny Donaldson of the large Innocent Victims United umbrella group, the latter of which has persistently protested that legacy is being soft on terrorists?

Did it not occur to him that retired police, representing ex RUC, were not present in his talks, and army concerns were, and this might be because army have greater clout? (the PSNI, who were invited, have disgracefully distanced themselves from retired RUC concerns).

Did it occur to him that people in his talks might be trying to depict IRA and state forces as equally culpable for the past violence? Because such voices are widespread.

If anyone is still trying to understand legacy, then here is a simple way to explain it: Republicans and their growing army of apologists are not remotely scared of legacy. They know the UK has not the heart even to contradict their lies, let alone chase them through the courts in the way republicans are being allowed to chase the state.

Arbishop Welby has ben played for a fool. But it is a deep betrayal of the UK to let the Northern Ireland Office be in these secret talks, along with the organisation to which the NIO defers, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Radio Ulster this week let that perpetual scold of the UK, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney, sermonise on the need for yet more scrutiny of the appalling murder of Pat Finucane.

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No wonder Dublin feels free to hector London on legacy. The latter has said nothing as Ireland has humiliated the UK before the Council of Europe for not doing enough on legacy cases the IRA holds dear.

A contemptible failure of Stormont House was it did not seek to investigate Ireland’s security failures, including decades of extradition refusals so that fanatical IRA killers were able to base themselves there (making easier hundreds of sectarian border murders). When the UK naively signed the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement they thought this would improve. It didn’t.

Earlier this year London realised its blunder at Stormont House. But I never believed its retreat. All they want is to keep down costs and avoid soldier prosecutions. The reported presence of the MoD but no RUC representatives is proof of that tives is proof of that (Under Stormont House RUC alone faced misconduct probes, not the army for assaulting people, not the IRA for bombs in which people were injured and livelihoods ruined).

Even if an amnesty leads to an end to prosecutions, the republican goal is clear: demonise the state through sub criminal investigations. They are happy if they get endless inquiries that are decided on a civil standard of balance of probabilities, not a criminal one of beyond all reasonable doubt. It is why they pushed for a Finucane inquiry to add to the legacy inquests, which have become mini inquiries into allegations against the state.

Peter Robinson in his News Letter column on Friday wrote powerfully on what a grievous injustice it would be to spend yet millions more on this one Troubles killing.

But he ended on a troubling note calling for “an agreed victim-centred framework for investigations”.

That sounds good but the DUP under him agreed Stormont House. It prompts the question. What is the position of the DUP on the talks? It is astonishing the party was not given even a hint of them. So now, given what we know about the imbalanced in participants, the party could be clear and state that it will treat any recommendations with the contempt they deserve.

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