In her Forward to the Consultation Paper, British colonial secretary Karen Bradley wrote legacy mechanisms "must seek to meet the needs of victims" and "must be fully consistent with the rule of law". She then saluted British crown forces, pledging to "reject any attempts to rewrite the history of the past" or "displace responsibility from the people who perpetrated acts of terrorism." What happens when such lofty aspirations collide?
The Ballymurphy Massacre illustrates the point. These victims and survivors need truth. They believe British troopers 'protected' Ballymurphy by murdering 11 residents, including a Catholic priest and mother of eight. The British then "displaced responsibility", blaming the victims. Requests for inquest funding met with hurtful dismissals. References to "innocent victims", implied that Ballymurphy Massacre victims were not among the "innocent."
These families fought a heartbreaking legal battle to get truth. They believe an inquest with eyewitness testimony under the rule of law can deliver it. What does Bradley do if these victims are right?
Bradley says her Tory regime will reject any attempt to rewrite history. If the evidence proves that the 11 killings were murders, how can she reject rewriting history with truth? Does Bradley simply ignore inconvenient facts, like Theresa May seemed to ignore Ivor Bell, Gerry McGeough and Seamus Kearney, asserting only British forces get investigated for the past? How would Bradley escape shifting blame from exonerated "innocent victims" back onto British troops for murder and smearing the dead?
What about collusion? The law holds those who pay for, direct, procure weapons, identify targets, cover-up ,or otherwise conspire in murders, are jointly criminally responsible for these murders. What if new legacy mechanisms confirm that Glenanne Gang and other murders claimed by loyalists should be counted jointly as British state collusion murders?
How does Bradley "displace responsibility" from British crown forces for their role in such acts of terrorism or reject recording the truth? Can Britain bury such crimes in a national security pit?
Bradley also wants legacy proposals to "reflect a broad political consensus and be balanced, fair, equitable and crucially, proportionate".
"Political consensus" has been the pretext for a DUP clamp on funding needed to give nationalists their chance for justice. Because crown forces only admit to ten percent of "Troubles" killings, "balanced and proportionate" have become code words for a quota on investigations of British crown killings which ignores collusion and state cover-ups.
Too many promises of legacy justice have been broken. Victims must get more than broken promises and stonewalling. It may be their last chance.