There he goes again. Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy prime minister, yesterday in effect scolded a British minister, as he has done before.
He expressed concern about “loose comments” by Britain’s new defence secretary Penny Mordaunt who has criticised repeat investigations of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland in the Troubles.
Mr Coveney previously scolded Karen Bradley, after she mangled the obvious point about the overwhelming majority of security force members who served in the Troubles having done so honourably, and he queried the detention of the dissident Tony Taylor, who abused his release on licence by returning to illegal activity.
Mr Coveney said yesterday: “We need to ensure that loose comments that are made are not damaging in terms of trust and the willingness of all sides to co-operate to make sure that the legacy structures committed to and agreed by both governments, supported by all political parties, move forward in the spirit that they were intended.”
That is wrong — the Ulster Unionist Party, to its credit, does not support the Stormont House structures and is increasingly outspoken against them. But putting the error aside, what co-operation does Mr Coveney refer to? What has there been from Dublin over Kingsmills or over the fact that for decades its territory was a haven for terrorists, which made easier the killing of hundreds of people. In fact, why is there is there no coming legacy process to examine Ireland’s role in the ability of IRA murderers to roam border regions?
The UK government’s own backbenchers are speculating it has done a deal with Sinn Fein, which is why NI veterans are excluded from plans to protect soldiers from prosecutions.
That the DUP has joined the criticism is welcome because it seems to rule out any idea the party is acquiescing in NI exclusion, so Stormont House can be implemented. But the fate of soldiers is only a part of the legacy scandal. The worst is the treatment of the RUC, who alone face “misconduct” probes.