Trevor Ringland: Victims should be told if there is no will to tackle past properly, including IRA murder

If there is no will to get justice for IRA victims, then we should be honest with victims, says Trevor Ringland. This picture shows the late Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein at an IRA funeral in 1988
If there is no will to get justice for IRA victims, then we should be honest with victims, says Trevor Ringland. This picture shows the late Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein at an IRA funeral in 1988

Despite frequent mentions of legacy issues during the current impasse at Stormont, I’m not convinced that the two governments or the main local parties are serious about dealing with the matter properly.

A particular finger of blame can be pointed at the Irish government and the SDLP, at whose insistence the ‘peace process’ was designed to include the biggest perpetrators of murder; the IRA.

• See below links to Trevor Ringland’s previous contributions on this theme

Would it not be better to be up front with the victims about what can be achieved? Then it may be possible to put in place measures to ensure that similar conflict can never happen again, as well as preventing Sinn Fein from repeatedly exploiting one of the unspoken truths of the political process.

If I am wrong, then Sinn Fein should confirm that those of its members and leaders who were active in the IRA during the ‘Troubles’ are prepared to serve two years in gaol, before being released on licence, as part of a thorough process to “deal with the past”.

After all, the same approach would apply to loyalist paramilitaries and all others who acted criminally during the Troubles.

Sinn Fein continues to justify the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence, even though the Official IRA identified in the early 1970s that the use of violence was futile. We cannot deal with the past properly while the main perpetrator refuses to acknowledge wrongdoing or face its consequences.

As a society, we should either pursue justice for all, or be candid with victims that the peace process has been designed in a way that makes its delivery impossible.

Trevor Ringland, Holywood

January 5: Is there any will to put ex terrorists in the dock as well as soldiers?

January 28: ‘Aileen Quinton is right – RHI is not as scandalous as legacy imbalance’

February 3: Jailing top terrorists could upset the peace process, and this compromises how we deal with the past

February 14: Clarity needed from Sinn Fein candidate on barbaric murder of academic

March 16: The two governments did not want to put top republicans in jail