We may or may not like it but ‘due process’ has to be followed; the old clarion call of the unionists that ‘the dogs in the street know it’ is not enough to convict a man.
The headline “McConville Family to fight on despite Adams’ release” was probably the most vindictive headline of all. It was very shrewdly written as it could be read to imply either that Gerry Adams was guilty or simply as a statement of fact. The author of that headline would have been proud of his sleight of hand.
Then I noticed something on the news. Theresa Villiers was being interviewed on Radio 4 about Adams’ release and yet no mention was made of the fact that the British had decided the same week that there would be no inquiry into the murder of eight people by the Paras in Ballymurphy. For an Irishman listening to the programme it was the best orchestrated piece of mis-news that you could imagine.
Then during the week we had a series of loyalist attacks on Polish workers in East Belfast. This was followed by the usual stony silence among the ranks of the unionist politicians and led Martin and Peter to have another public row.
The deputy first minister attacked the first minister for showing ‘no leadership whatsoever’ in his assembly constituency of East Belfast.
Mr McGuinness of Sinn Féin claimed the DUP was reluctant to criticise loyalists for electoral reasons.
The DUP has described that comment as outrageous.” (BBC News)
The unfortunate part of all this is that it continues a long tradition of loyalist violence going unchallenged. Those of us who lived here all throughout the troubles know that loyalist violence was always given some sort of credibility and excuse; it was somehow less reprehensible than IRA violence.
Gerard Stewart published a report for the Institute of Race Relations on Dec 12th, 2013. In the main body of the report the word ‘Loyalist’ as referring to an area or perpetrators is mentioned seven times while ‘republican’ or ‘IRA’ is not mentioned once. It seems to say something!
Then we had the exclusion order. Uncle Peter had taken it into his head that if Sinn Fein didn’t play ball he was going to put them out of Stormont.
It conjures up an image of Peter standing beneath the statue of Carson, hand in air, pointing to the gate, and Martin, Gerry Kelly et al, coming along with their heads down and walking out.
Peter, the great democrat, would go down in history as the restorer of Unionist Domination.
Come to think of it, what does the behaviour of the PSNI over Gerry Adams tell us about the state of policing in Northern Ireland?
According to all we read, there was nothing new in the evidence held by the police; basically it was all just hearsay. The word of a dead man, whether on tape or on paper is not evidence.
Well, it is if you hate your opponent and want to slander him at all cost, but that is neither here nor there!
The phrase ‘bringing the law into disrepute’ springs to mind.
During my childhood, we knew that there was no justice in Northern Ireland and that the RUC was simply a case of Protestants policing Catholics. The law was rigorously enforced against Catholics with large dollops of leeway given to Protestants, particularly those who were in the right organizations.
In fairness to the successors of the disbanded RUC, they have by and large, tried to apply the law even-handedly, although they shall never please everyone, particularly those of us who see breaking the law as a person’s right.
So what went wrong in the arrest of Adams?
Nothing really, and in a way it shows us that the PSNI is a police force made up of people from Northern Ireland.
Let me explain: when you listen to some of the words of diehard unionists you realize that there are still people hankering after the old days. But while they may be old diehard unionists, they are not old people. In fact a lot of them are quite young, and some of them will join the PSNI.
Our police force will reflect the makeup of the community in the same way as all police forces throughout the world reflect the communities in which they exist: there are still men and women in the PSNI who hate all things Catholic, republican, nationalist and Irish. It is the nature of our society.
Thankfully at the moment they appear to be in a small minority, but their existence is the best reason why Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Catholic people should encourage young nationalist men and women to join the police. We must never give control of law and order to unionism again; if we do we are allowing extremists to set the agenda for the whole community.
However, such people who see the law as something with which to fight their political battles still exist in our community. The chief constable should be asking serious questions of the people who made the decision to arrest Adams in the first place.
The judge who granted the PSNI more time to question Adams did his bit to bring the law into disrepute as well.
But back to Peter Robinson’s statement that he would exclude Sinn Fein. While it may have had some legal basis, it could never have had any legitimacy. So what is going on in Northern Ireland?
We all know that Northern Ireland is an artificially constructed state which was set up to placate the unionist but effectively gave them domination over the Catholics. The foundation stone of the state is hatred, hatred of all things Catholic and Irish.
So it is not surprising that this sort of behaviour as seen by the PSNI’s arrest of Adams shall raise its head the odd time. The innate assumption of dominance reflected in Robinson’s belief that he can still exclude any Catholics that he doesn’t agree with, is also a hangover from the old days.
When we consider the refusal of the Brits to hold an inquiry into the murder of innocent civilians by the Paras in Ballymurphy and the obsession with certain people of finding Gerry Adams guilty of a crime he may or may not have committed, we begin to see that discrimination and the phrase ‘bringing the law into disrepute’ still have a lot of mileage in them.
Of course Sinn Fein are now laughing all the way to the polling booth. Thousands of people who had serious questions about the behaviour of Sinn Fein and its rejection of Catholic teaching on abortion, will now return to the fold. While it may not gain Sinn Fein many votes it will certainly bring back a few ditherers.
For those of us who were news addicts and political junkies in the last part of the 20th century, this past couple of weeks has been like a time warp.
Enter our beloved leader and senior partner of the OFMDFM duet, Peter Robinson:
“Throwing an idea like that out is one thing.
Agreeing what the detail of it should be is something entirely different. I will not be putting my hand to any proposal that is going to reward those that have been engaged in terrorism. So definitions become important in that context," said Peter.
Peter’s innate dominance again: nothing can happen unless it pleases the unionists!
True, but when I was researching this story I came across something else. It concerned an association called ‘The Association of Jewish Refugees,’ and what I read set me thinking;
“Depending on their experiences, victims of Nazism might be entitled to receive a compensation and/or social security pension from Germany and/or other European countries.”
Think about it for a minute it. The Jews are entitled to pensions from Germany because of the behaviour of the Germans towards the Jews during the war. And other countries might also have a legal obligation to them.
Could we Catholics who are aged sixty or more, and who were raised in the Old North sue the British for allowing us to be discriminated against, be the victims of RUC pogroms in the 20s and 30s, and could we sue the Free State for abandoning us to our fate when they had a moral duty as fellow Irishmen to help us?
Then at week’s end, the good old Catholic Church shows us something about the nature of truth.
On Saturday last, Pope Francis said that Pope Paul VI was to be made a Blessed on October 19th. Why is this important and what has it to do with truth.
Just after the Second Vatican Council, to a large degree, the Catholic Church lost the run of itself. One of the big issues of the day was artificial contraception and the whole question of reproductive rights.
On the 25th of July 1968 Paul VI published his famous encyclical Humanae Vitae. The arguments for and against have long been rehearsed so we won’t go into them again. But there is one important fact that has been lost in the passage of time; the fact that even the majority of the bishops on the commission set up to examine the question were in favour of allowing at least a limited amount of contraception.
Paul VI went against world opinion, secular attitudes and against the advice of his own commission when he said that in no way could the Church agree to any form of artificial contraception. The last time a pope was in this position, to the best of my knowledge, was during the Arian controversy in the 4th century.
Paul stood his ground: he knew the truth and he held to it, come what may. After the publication of the encyclical he was castigated, ridiculed and mocked. Literally millions of Catholics either left or ignored the teaching of the Church.
But in the end, Paul VI, and his holding on to the truth has won out, and everything he predicted in Humanae Vitae has come to pass. The Church is well on the way to recovery after all this time. Although the secularists do not like to admit it, the Church is as strong as ever.
The important point is that if we hold on to the truth then we shall win out.