A year ago Jarlath Kearney lauded Constabulary Chief George Hamilton's words at St. Mary's College in Belfast. His column, aptly headed "The time for talking truths has arrived"(August 12,2015) even proffered confidence building gestures for Hamilton to match his words with deeds. A look at how Hamilton treated those modest benchmarks makes for an "uncomfortable conversation".
Kearney's confidence builders were not difficult. Yet they would make welcome progress. Publish the collusion and shoot-to-kill reports-Stevens and Stalker/Sampson. Assign enough staff to make real progress in the Ballymurphy Massacre investigation. Stop stonewalling the McGurk Bar families with court battles. Halt the harassment and intimidation of Independent Republicans who merely dissent politically.
With Martin McGuinness to lend credibility, Hamilton said:
I'm accountable to a policing board that's got four Sinn Fein members on it, and an SDLP representative ... I'm not going to be fettered by secretaries of state, prime ministers or anyone else.
Victims' families were led to expect something beyond empty rhetoric. Surely Hamilton would not mislead victims in front of notable politicians and reporters. He left himself no excuses for doing nothing to justify his invitation or to rebuke those outside protesting.
More than a year has passed. The Stevens and Stalker/Sampson reports are still buried. The full Stevens details were not released in 2003, because twenty prosecutions were predicted charging RUC complicity with loyalist criminals in murder or obstruction of justice. Stalker/ Sampson was said to threaten prosecutions on shoot-to-kill. Today those reports indict only those who continue the cover-up and apologists who allow them to do so.
The Ballymurphy Massacre families were forced to threaten legal action to get a single investigator reassigned to this British Army mass murder. They are stonewalled by denying staff and documents.
This year the McGurk families slammed Hamilton for defending the indefensible HET report. They were driven back to Court to get it quashed.
There has been no let-up of "old-mode" tactics targeting independent Republicans on sight to repress legitimate political dissent.
Who is to blame? Was it the four DUP, one UUP and one Alliance Party members along with eight independents on the policing board? No one thought this an obstacle worth mentioning.
Since Hamilton says he is unfettered by any British Prime Minister or colonial secretary, his inaction could not be blamed on being denied funds or given orders from above.
The protestors outside said that Hamilton was there for a public relations stunt. They said Hamilton was staging a cosmetic charade, using well-known Republicans and gullible columnists as props to mislead victims into false hopes. It seems hard to deny that the protestors were right. Will Kearney have the courage to talk truths to those who were misled?