Ed Moloney with a satirical take on reaction to the North's Attorney General John Larkin's proposals for dealing with the past. It initially featured on The Broken Elbow on 21 November 2013.
Today’s Irish Times carries reactions from British, Southern and Northern Irish politicians to Attorney-General John Larkin’s suggestion that there be a moratorium on Troubles-era prosecutions as well as a halt to pre-1998 inquests and inquiries. What the Times did not do was provide the all-important translations of those remarks, the real meaning hidden behind the flowery press statements. Happily, thebrokenelbow.com is able to correct that oversight. Irish Times reports are in italics.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a measured response by saying the suggestion would be hard for families who had lost loved ones in the Troubles to accept. ‘I think it would be difficult for families on either side of the dark time in Northern Ireland if you were to follow, for instance, that advice and put in place what the Attorney General recommended,’ he said in the Dáil yesterday.
Translation: “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding. Give up the biggest stick I have to hit that bastard Adams with? No way!”
British prime minister David Cameron insisted the British government had no plans to legislate on any form of amnesty, and added: “The words of the Northern Ireland Attorney General are very much his own words.”
Translation: “Golly, John! Terribly brave of you and so many thanks for taking the heat. Just wish I had been able to do the same for poor Rebecca. The CO of 1 Para has personally asked me to pass on his deep gratitude. Now, about that vacancy on the bench. Any chance you might settle instead for honorary membership of the Bullingdon Club?”.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the needs of the victims and their families had to be the priority. “There is already an agreed way for dealing with pre-’98 cases. I have not yet heard a convincing argument for changing that,” he said.
Translation: “Thank fuck they’re not digging into that East German printing press and that very special North Korean paper. Made perfect $50 bills. Or so I’m told. I never saw any, of course. You do realise that, don’t you? Never! As for Seamus Costello, or those brothels that were run with the UVF in Belfast or the building site rackets that certain comrades in the Markets ran, I knew absolutely nothing about them. Hi Tonto, how are ye after all these years!”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said he was deeply suspicious about the timing of the proposal coming at a time when US diplomat Dr Richard Haass is trying to reach agreement on how to deal with the past, flags and parades.
Translation: “You know, I really should have stayed at UTV. They had a great pension plan.”
Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams said “whatever mechanisms are agreed in the future they need to be victim centred”.
Translation: “So long as they don’t include Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright, young McKee, that bloody woman McConville and Paddy Joe Crawford then I’m all for it.”
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said “there are 3,000 unsolved murders in Northern Ireland and those families are entitled to the right to pursue justice”.
Translation: “Except the Fenian ones.”
Support for the idea came from former British Labour Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain. “I think the Attorney General said what needed to be said. He was right to put his head above the parapet, because this issue is not going to go away.”
Translation: “Can’t we do this in Iraq as well? Tony told me he’s be most grateful if we could. And you know how grateful Tony can be these days.”
The leader of the new NI21 party, Basil McCrea, also expressed support.
Former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket and no-wash/no work protests which led to the hunger strikes of the 80s. Completed PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and went on to become a journalist. Co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analyzed the Irish peace process. Lead researcher for the Belfast Project, an oral history of the Troubles.