As Enniskillen mourns its dead, we need the truth

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

Just when most of us thought the Brexit negotiations were getting bogged down and boring, the government was hit by the scandal of members not behaving themselves at work, to be quickly followed by the revelations of how the rich get richer through using legal income tax avoidance schemes and then came the news of Cabinet Minister Priti Patel travelling abroad (said she was on holiday) promising aid money to the Israeli Army of all people. Not even the Prime Minister herself would be so daft.

An interesting week don’t you think? Too much excitement for most of us I suspect. Ms Patel‘s ‘generosity’ to others brought another politician to mind.

The service at the unveiling and dedication of the memorial for the victims of the 1987 Enniskillen Poppy Day Bomb.

The service at the unveiling and dedication of the memorial for the victims of the 1987 Enniskillen Poppy Day Bomb.

One-time MLA Caitriona Ruane is a big name in Sinn Fein having served South Down for 14 years.

She was our principal Deputy Speaker in the Assembly until it collapsed but that didn’t stop her believing she was entitled to continue to take her DP’s salary, £55,500 per year, even though she declined to stand in the last Assembly election.

When the discovery was made Ms Ruane immediately renounced that post.

According to her she gave `salary cash for her speaking role to charity’. But we haven’t been told which charity/ies.

You see, her actions to me, confirm what I’ve always thought that once people become politicians they imagine they’re a cut above the rest of us and shouldn’t have to answer any of the silly questions we might ask.

I know my readers out there will probably point me to the good politicians who are generous to a fault with their time and talents, even their money. Yet I haven’t met many like that.

So it’s no surprise then that Ms Ruane appeared to think she was doing the right thing in giving `her’ money away.

Trouble with that argument is that it was her party which collapsed the Assembly.

However due to a ‘loophole in the Stormont pay system’ her coffers continued to be filled with taxpayers’ money.

This has been revealed to us as many genuine people who claimed income support – including disabled people – face life without the state benefits they believed they were entitled to.

The slimming down of those benefits is causing hardship. So maybe the benevolent Ms Ruane was forking out what she thought was her own money to help her former constituents whose benefits have been reduced or removed altogether.

We don’t know, of course, because she won’t tell how she spent our money.

This attitude is in contrast to her political party which is mad keen to get everything out in the open when it comes to serious legacy issues or the RHI scandal which brought down Stormont.

Hasn’t their former finance minister in that very Stormont government, Mairtin O Muilleoir, declared that the inquiry now underway into the RHI scandal must ‘give no hiding place to guilty parties’ and it should shine a light in the dark corners of alleged corruption?

Well said, Mairtin but we’d all have a lot more respect for your insistence on the truth if the political party to which you owe allegiance – Sinn Fein – applied this ‘need’ for truth to those, if you know who they are, who were responsible for such atrocities as the Enniskillen bombing and the Kingsmills massacre.

Peace will not be achieved without truth and Ireland will not be united until the generation which has had to live through the misery of the Troubles has died.

The next generation may decide the British link is not all it’s cracked up to be and demand changes.

It’s hard to believe that this week is the 30th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing and still no-one has paid the price for that atrocity.

All these decades on and devolution has failed. The truth is further away than ever.

While intransigence reigns here in the north, the rest of the UK is mired in sex scandals in the corridors of power, and the lengths the rich will go to keep their dosh. Sounds almost biblical.