How To Etch A Sketch The past
PSNI chief constable George Hamilton’s suggestion that perhaps a line of sorts should be drawn under the past or, at the very least, discussed again for the umpteenth time, has been met with complete disagreement by DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster who clearly stated that she certainly wouldn’t agree to such a notion as drawing a line under the past.
Hamilton’s remarks were further expanded upon by the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Anne Villiers, as expressed in her speech at Ulster University 11/02/2016, where she stated “We need new ways to deal with Troubles cases - there is too much emphasis on State involvement”. A statement that in no doubt engendered hope in the Finucane family’s quest for justice.
In other words, let’s deal with the past in a particular fashion where Britain has nothing to answer. Which really boils down to drawing a line under the past and move on. Since it wasn’t her security forces who were responsible for murderous acts such as Loughlinisland, Britain had nothing to answer! Something that the bereaved families of the victims of Loughlinisland have been trying to establish for many years and have been constantly thwarted by respective British governments in withholding vital information to British security force involvement.
Villiers has been accused of being ‘insensitive and offensive to the victims of the atrocity by South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie who managed to drag herself away from the many Westminster committees she sits on with her British colleagues, to condemn Villiers for her remarks and the fact that the British Secretary of State was trying to draw a line under the past ... not Arlene’s past though.
Foster though, while waiting on the arrangements for more talks on legacy issues such as murder, unveiled a Blue plaque to Thomas Sinclair, a Unionist from the past. A person claimed by the Gibberish Society as one of theirs and whose claim to fame, besides his business dealings, was, as author of Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant, which was drawn up just under 10 years before the partition of Ireland and the establishment of Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, Blue plaques are of a standard size and are not large enough to accommodate all of the accomplishments of a person being honoured. Therefore, much to the Gibberish Society’s dismay, they were unable to include Sinclair’s past glories as a person of treason against the British Crown, a bigot and a racist, on the plaque.
A noticeable non-attendant at the unveiling and stalwart of all things Gibberish was Nelson McCausland. No reason as to why was given but perhaps we can only hypothesise it has to do with the recent reports that McCausland (former Minister of DSD incorporating Housing), Dodds and DUP councillor Brian Kingston met housing association Oaklee Homes representatives in an Orange Order hall just weeks before plans to build homes in a nationalist area in North Belfast were withdrawn. No minutes were taken nor has a reason of why Nationalist housing was discussed in an Orange Hall by Orangemen been given or why a housing association planning on building Nationalist housing even agreed to meet there in the first place.
Needless to say, that McCausland’s absence from the unveiling is most likely to do with his concerns about the possibility of an addition to his extensive collection of ‘petitions of concern’.
The result of these Orange meetings was the unexpected surprise that no houses for Nationalists were built.
Foster not content with unveiling a plaque to a person of treason, announced that she would be attending an event, as a non-participant, and tenuously connected to the past “very violent” Irish rebellion. A 1916 Commemoration but not an actual 1916 Commemoration event – more of a ‘more considered discussion’ about Easter 1916.
Organised by The Church of Ireland Historical Centenaries Working Group, it is to be held in Christ Church Cathedral Dublin and the debate is entitled ‘A state of chassis — Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances in Dublin in 1916’.
That said, the same organisation is also allegedly trying to organise a similar discussion/debate to ‘not commemorate’ the Battle of the Somme in July. It is to be entitled, A state of chassis — Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances on the Somme Battlefield in 1916’.
It is to focus on the men, women and children who were injured or butchered by the violent actions of Britain and her allies, while they were milking their farm livestock on the Somme on that fateful day and whose views were not sought on the potential upcoming violence and carnage.
With particular focus on how this dispossession and upheaval impacted on the Somme farming communities and their shift away from livestock farming to arable farming and its impact on the greater agricultural economy of continental Europe!
Foster also found time to suggest that the thievery of public funds by MLA’s through their falsification of expenses claims should be monitored along the lines of Westminster in order to uphold the integrity of Stormont and her MLAs ... a task that even Sisyphsus would find daunting!
A Westminster who’s chaperoning of her own MPs and their integrity with regards to their expenses claims, was exposed as inadequate a few years ago and instils one with full confidence in Foster’s proposal!
She also revealed that she was unable to make up her mind regarding the withholding of information by the British government under the public-interest immunity (PII) certificate, in to the murder of another Arlene, Arlene Arkinson, which was a non-conflict related murder. It would seem that Ms Villiers will have to extend her Etch a Sketch line under the past to include all murders, conflict related or not.