In Norn Iron, we have gone one step better than Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. They merely had Show TRIALS. We are much more civilized. We have Show ARRESTS.
And like the regimes of Hitler and Stalin, it is all faithfully recorded by the Camera.
Basically what happens is that ex-republican or loyalist paramilitaries or ex-British soldiers are arrested and taken to a police station. They are questioned for a few days about a serious crime which could have occurred up to four decades ago. TV Journalists report live from outside the police station. And then…the suspect is released without charge.
It is a familiar pattern.
But lets be honest….few paramilitaries or security force personnel will ever be charged….and nobody is going to jail. Thats how it is. Neither Sinn Féin, loyalist groups or the British Governments “Norn Iron Office” would accept any situation where one of their own ends up in jail.
It is yet another hoax on Victims. It just wont happen.
There is….Sinn Féin tell us …no hierarchy of victims. Actually they are right, all are treated badly. No doubt the families of victims, who themselves fought for causes…republican, loyalist or British and who were committed understand that it is all part of the big picture…the Peace Process. But those families who were not so committed are also being asked to pay the same price. Injustice.
People and the organisations may have a right to waive their own right to Justice. They dont have the right to waive the rights of others.
Yet as an occasional man in his 60s is brought to a police station, hopes are raised. And sink with the “released without charge”. The Public know it is a farce so why do PSNI and Prosecution Services persist with it. Who is being conned?
To leave aside the political considerations that all participants in the Conflict have been given assurances that nobody is going to jail, there are the very pragmatic concerns that would be siezed upon by any half-competent defence lawyer.
1….”the charges against my client are politically motivated”
2….”key witnesses are dead”
3….”evidence has been lost”
4 ….”evidence has been tampered with”
5…..”forensics in 1972 were not of todays standards”
6…..”my client is 66 years old and suffering from an early onset of dementia….”
We are conned on a daily basis and thats bad. But conning ourselves is worse.
The reaction of the UK press was bizarre and utterly lacking any self-awareness, as if the last half-century of Irish and British history had completely passed them by. Seeing the Daily Telegraph and Mail complaining about British soldiers being arrested for past crimes when members of the IRA are going “scot free” for their actions is just mind-boggling. Have none of these people heard of the H-Blocks? Of the Crumlin Road? Of the 20,000 odd men and women imprisoned for republican “offences”?
That said, I think we should – legally, anyway – either leave well enough alone or call a general amnesty. What purpose this arrest serves, beyond slightly tipping the scales of justice the other way, is beyond me. Dozens of former (P)IRA volunteers have been lifted since 2010, some are on remand or otherwise awaiting trial. Does anyone think one arrest of one British soldier will really cancel those things out? SF just seems so utterly useless on these questions. Inept, to say the least.
As well as the six points I mentioned, I should have added newspaper and publicity campaigns by ex comrades …..last I heard “Private” Lee Clegg is still a serving soldier and fully exonerated.
That’s it. You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of British soldiers convicted of murder from 1969 onwards, yet there was hardly a lack of murders carried out by the UK forces. Or the RUC. Or their proxies. Yet the British press go apoplectic at the thoughts of their soldiers justifying their actions in a court of law, and not it should be noted in the counter-insurgency Diplock courts they set up in the 1970s and which everyone else had to face.
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