When the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the Irish government’s attempt to get a final appeal examination of the so-called Hooded Men case yesterday, the Republic’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney responded.
He said the outcome was “deeply disappointing for the men who were the victims of that treatment”.
Mr Coveney added: “Their long campaign is one of dignity, of compassion and of an inextinguishable belief in the universality of human rights, enduring through the deepest of suffering and the darkest of events.”
Presumably Mr Coveney was not including in that one of the 14 men, Kevin Hannaway, 70, jailed for dissident republican terrorist offences earlier this year in Dublin.
The Republic of Ireland had tried to get the treatment of the men, when they were detained without trial in Northern Ireland in 1971, deemed as torture.
Earlier this year the court in Strasbourg rejected that bid by a remarkable six judges to one (the Irish judge was the sole dissenter). But still Ireland gave delight to Sinn Fein by pressing ahead with the bid for a grand chamber hearing.
It is excellent news that Dublin has been humiliated for its persistence. But this raises much deeper questions.
As Jim Nicholson MEP writes on page 11, we cannot possibly proceed with legacy structures that do not require the same disclosure of Dublin as is required of London, given that the Republic was a comfortable base for IRA murderers.
And further to that, given that the Irish government has (in effect) tried to divide the UK with an internal Irish Sea border, which could yet cause the Brexit talks to collapse, and given that Mr Coveney has been so partisan in Northern Ireland, calling for the release of the dissident Tony Taylor and saying that an Irish language act must be in any deal, unionists should reiterate and stick to the parameters of any engagement with him and his officials in any coming talks.