Failure to resolve Massereene murders means more people will die

Morning View
Morning View

AMID the horrendous distress at finding out yesterday that no-one is accountable for the murder of her son, Geraldine Azimkar found time to make an important point yesterday.

“It is not that the police did a poor investigation,” she said. “It was good, it was professional.”

In republican atrocity after atrocity, no-one is held to account. This was substantially the case during the Troubles, but seems even more the case now.

The burden of proof is such that it is hard to identify and convict dedicated terrorists who are skilled operators.

Yet often the blame falls on the police. And, as in Omagh, it is often nationalist Ireland — the same people who seem eternally ambivalent about police here so long as this jurisdiction exists — that is most vociferous in its denunciation of the success rate of a police force that it fails entirely to support.

When it comes to confronting dissidents, nationalists fail to give meaningful, as opposed to nominal, support to the security forces, indeed the authorities as a whole,

There is criticism when the intelligence agencies try to bung money to people who might provide information — the sort of payment that might stop an Omagh-style bombing.

There is criticism (from the SDLP) when the authorities try to revoke the licence of dissident-inclined republicans who have breached the terms of their 1998 release.

There has been criticism of the validity of the verdicts against the murderers of Stephen Carroll.

And there is no prospect at all of support for detention without trial of a handful of dangerous ringleaders, known to the authorities, who are plotting murders as you read this paper.

The bleak truth is that dissidents know that there is no real cross-community will to confront them and will continue to murder. There will be uproar from all sides when those murders happen.

The story of the Troubles rolls on. An immensely civilised British justice system, which demands the highest burdens of proof, will rarely be able to secure major convictions .

And it won’t get any thanks from its critics for its restraint.