Ben Lowry: Now even that wretch Seamus Daly is blaming the Brits

Seamus Daly walks free from Maghaberry prison on Tuesday after charges against him relating to the Omagh bombing were dropped.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Seamus Daly walks free from Maghaberry prison on Tuesday after charges against him relating to the Omagh bombing were dropped. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

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Fresh evidence of the moral collapse in Northern Ireland this week.

I am not talking about the dropping of the criminal case against Seamus Daly. I trust that was the right decision based on the evidence.

I am talking about the fact that the wretch is now portraying himself as a victim.

Seamus Daly was found liable in a civil case for the Omagh bomb massacre.

Now, all solemn and concerned, he is “backing” calls for a public inquiry.

Don’t be surprised to see celebrities back his call for such a probe. Will he at some point try be seen in solidarity with Omagh victims?

Now that the prospect of criminal convictions seems to be closed, an inquiry would help if it was able to focus on the swines who carried out the attack, and if it examined what – if anything – we can do to expose their savagery and hunt down any assets they have so that they can be confiscated and so on.

But I fear an inquiry will end up spreading the blame so widely that it leaves the lingering sense that the state and the terrorist mass murderers were both to blame.

Daly is reported to have said: “I don’t know anything about the Omagh bombing but I believe the Brits could have prevented it.”

Ah, yes, of course they could. They could have prevented the Shankill bomb and Teebane and no doubt countless other heinous attacks on civilians.

This will go on and on. Republicans know that they now only have to make the allegation that the state could have stopped it and a host of fools will soon be gravely demanding an investigation of the state’s ‘role’ in one IRA atrocity after another.

And so Britain is to blame for loyalist murders (it either initiated them or let them go ahead) and it is to blame for republican ones too (no-one, not even the IRA, can credibly claim that it commissioned the republican massacres, so instead they allege that the state deliberately let them go ahead).

Thus Britain is culpable at both the micro and the macro level – to blame for the specific republican acts of terrorism and to blame for the conditions that led to the terrorism through hundreds of years of oppression.

Almost every week this ludicrous (but sick) narrative gains ground.

The truth is the opposite. During the Troubles countless dedicated terrorists were acquitted by courts, such was Britain’s adherence to the rule of law. The state found it hard to monitor and stop dedicated, remorseless terrorists back then and it finds it hard now.

In the same way that organisations like the Assets Recovery Agency emerged because the normal criminal justice system found it hard to stop experienced gangsters, the normal legal system finds it hard to stop skilled terrorists.

The case for reintroducing targeted, intelligent internment of the most fanatical terrorist operatives was very strong in the late 1980s and 1990s. But memories of the botched 1971 internment would have been sufficiently fresh for a re-introduction of it to have inflamed tensions, no matter how carefully implemented.

Britain probably made the right decision not up the ante in this way, but terror victims did die as a result of that restraint.

The day after an attack on a prison officer we can only hope that few people will die in the future.

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