Trevor Ringland: We need Nuremberg trials as precusor to dealing with legacy, but instead the two governments appease murderers

Simon Coveney and Karen Bradley at Stormont in April. "The two governments have strived to avoid dealing with crimes, as in their view that is necessary for the political process. Essentially to ignore murder! They failed to resource our criminal justice system to enable it to bring to justice those responsible for those crimes." 'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Simon Coveney and Karen Bradley at Stormont in April. "The two governments have strived to avoid dealing with crimes, as in their view that is necessary for the political process. Essentially to ignore murder! They failed to resource our criminal justice system to enable it to bring to justice those responsible for those crimes." 'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Share this article

There comes a point where a lie is exposed for what it is and becomes unsustainable, even though it has been repeated many times to the point where too many believe it.

The lie — that we are dealing with the past — is particularly distasteful when those it has been told to have suffered tragedy with often loss of or serious injury to a loved one and have had to live with the terrible consequences.

So with the latest report on the outcome of the consultation on how we deal with legacy issues, which I prefer to call crimes, we have reached such a point.

The reality is that the two governments have strived over the years to avoid dealing with the crimes, as in their view that is what was necessary to keep the political and hence peace process operating. Essentially to ignore murder!

In particular they failed to properly resource our criminal justice system, which has evolved over centuries, to enable it to actively pursue the evidence necessary to bring to justice those responsible for those crimes.

As to truth, instead of challenging the two deeply flawed and excluding ideologies of violent Irish republicanism and extreme unionism that caused our totally unnecessary conflict, we too simplistically call the ‘Troubles’, they promoted their greatest advocates.

As peacemakers around the world!

We should have our own version of the Nuremberg Trials as a precursor to determining how we really deal with “legacy issues” (Over 3600 deaths of which republicans were responsible for 2148, loyalist paramilitaries 1071. The army caused 309 and the police 50. These statistics are from the book Lost Lives) where we put those ideologies on trial.

We should also remind ourselves that ‘Legacy’ is not about the past but the present and the future.

The murders of Ian Ogle and Lyra McKee and others as well as the ongoing attempts to murder our police and prison officers remind us of that.

We have to challenge those flawed ideologies.

It was those inspired by them that caused some 120 murders by the Glenanne gang during from 1972 to 1980 as well as the others as well as the other 1933 deaths that occurred in that period, the vast majority of which were also murders.

Those two hate-filled ideologies started the conflict and so they also were the cause of Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday, Kingsmills, Miami Showband, Narrow Water and so many others such incidents.

Our politics is still based on hatred and that has to change.

I have no doubt the Felon’s club are debating whether or not to continue with a chaos strategy of destroying Northern Ireland to unite Ireland as opposed to making it work socially and economically to prove a united Ireland is a better constitutional option.

I can only remind those from the Felon’s club that met with a group of unionists many years ago, to see how we could work together, of the night in our discussions, when the atmosphere of same was changed when someone asked, “What do we want for our children? Is it further conflict lives blighted by death, imprisonment, alcoholism and mental issues, poverty and social alienation?”

That night we all agreed definitely not.

The Titanic was a beautiful ship with good people on board. It only sank through bad leadership. Is that going to be the epitaph for the Ireland of the future? There is no reason why it should be, especially as there are plenty of examples of good leadership across our society. The two governments and politicians should take more heed of them.

Finally if we are to really bring to justice those responsible for the crimes of the past I look forward to the plan, with a specific and properly resourced team set up, to prioritise the investigation of the approximately 700 outstanding murders of the members of the security forces who gave their lives to provide us with the opportunity to ensure what happened to them and so many others, never happens again to our society.

Trevor Ringland, Holywood