There is every reason to be concerned about the Government’s ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
Campaign groups for innocent victims of terrorism have expressed outrage over plans to grant effective amnesties to unrepentant paramilitary murderers if they participate in a so-called truth recovery process. They ask, rightly, where is the retrospective justice for so many killed or injured by terror groups in such a system?
However, it is, as Innocent Victims United point out in this newspaper today, “rank hypocrisy” for Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to denounce the UK’s de facto amnesty scheme on behalf of victims and their families.
From Bertie Ahern’s letter in 1999 to Tony Blair urging the British to follow the Irish and grant immunity from prosecution for wanted IRA suspects, right up to last year’s revelation by former Dublin Justice Minister Michael McDowell that successive governments in the Republic operated a turn-a-blind-eye amnesty scheme for IRA members, the evidence is there.
Since the Belfast Agreement in 1998, the Irish state has quietly maintained its very own undeclared amnesty system for terrorists while at the same time offering no proposals on how to examine the Republic’s role in prolonging the terrorist campaign north of the border.
Questions over how Irish government ministers helped in the inception of the Provisional IRA or how border counties became safe havens for killers crossing into counties like Fermanagh and Tyrone to slaughter hundreds of people have yet to be properly, comprehensively confronted by the establishment in Dublin, let alone wider southern society.
Mr Coveney’s ruling coalition should start that examination before Sinn Fein ever take power in Dublin, as they will re-write history altogether and whitewash the IRA’s blood stained legacy.