Ambient Lie

Anthony McIntyre argues that John Downey should not be extradited to the British as a simple ethical statement of disdain towards British state contempt for the dead of Bloody Sunday. 

The howls of the many in British political, media or military life at the decision, faux as it no doubt is, to pursue Soldier F on a murder charge over that sociopath’s role on Bloody Sunday, should invite only scorn.  Whatever their outrage is prompted by, justice or fairness does not figure. To borrow a term from Jenny McCartney, they have sought to “fabricate disadvantage” in a strategy of pretence which aims to build a regime of truth where the lie becomes the truth that only former state forces personnel are being pursued in the North's cultural war on the legacy battlefield. 
We have an unfair situation at the moment - the situation we have at the moment is that the only people being investigated for these issues that happened in the past are those in our armed forces or those who served in law enforcement in Northern Ireland - that is patently unfair.
This sort of rubbish is prevalent, having percolated from the top down, despite ongoing attempts to extradite the one-time IRA member John Downey.

The former Fermanagh activist is wanted by the British in relation to the deaths of two men in 1972, Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston and Private James Eames, both members of the UDR. Unlike Soldier F’s victim, both men were combatants although their deaths were ultimately as needless as those killed by the psychopathic Para. 

Downey has insisted that "it was the DUP and not the DPP” who were behind his arrest. There is more than a smidgen of truth in that. The DUP tend to howl until Sammy Wilson is orange in the face about these matters.  We are forced to wonder were Westminster parliamentary arithmetic different from what it is, would any extradition request have been made in the case of Downey, given the slap in the face  sustained by the British establishment last time around. 

It is instructive that Theresa May has referred to peace being "very much due to the work of our armed forces and law enforcement in Northern Ireland." Law enforcement has always trumped rule of law. Given the history of law makers being law breakers in the North, we know just how skewed the rule of law in their hands becomes.  On the past there is no rule of law, just the rule of law enforcement.

As an exercise in truth recovery the prosecution of one soldier for Bloody Sunday was desultory and derisory. On those grounds alone the Dublin judicial establishment should not extradite Downey. The pursuit of Downey, every bit as much as that of Soldier F, is a futile exercise. Neither is designed to bring truth recovery but are red herrings meant to distract the posse while the powerful filibuster the entire process of truth recovery into redundancy.

The ambient lie in which truth recovery is occurring is that despite a cessation of hostilities supposedly having long since occurred the British – aided by Downey’s party, Sinn Fein – remain determined to take prisoners.

The simple truth is that there is no pursuit of truth, but rather what Jenny McCartney has elsewhere described as:
arguments in which the cold, dry facts of what actually happened seem fated to become subordinate to the question of which group one most strongly identifies with in the dispute.


  1. Or neither will be seriously pursued save for optics. Britain plays the long game.

  2. There's a psychological and educational fundamental which state that minds prepared for battle are rarely, or if ever, prepared for learning.

    Too many of the parties involved in, or touched by, the conflict still holds too deeply vested positions for any truth or potential learnings to emerge just yet. Therefore, I’m of an opinion that there’s merit in Attorney General John Larkin’s suggestion of November 2013 that formal investigations ought now be ended;

    ‘It strikes me that the time has come to think about putting a line, set at Good Friday 1998, with respect to prosecutions, inquests and other inquiries.’

    In the unlikely event of that happening, disclosures and greater understandings would of themselves eventually follow. More likely, the adversarial ping-pong continues with the inherent on-going retention of suspicion and hurt, not to mention the risk of fueling further low-grade feuding between sections of the community.

    (On a matter of clarity: Though Downey may have been active in Fermanagh, he is a native of County Clare).

  3. Steve - right on.

    Henry Joy - good job on the Clare thing.

    John Larkin had it spot on; felt so then, felt so before it and still feel so

  4. My take on how I see HET type cases working goes like this... every now and then someone in the corridors of power throw an Ivor Bell, Wiston Rea or a John Downey under a bus. I sometimes think they hope because of their ages they will be to ill to attended any court or dead through natural causes before any Diplock Court/Jury hear evidence. I have severed ruled out that maybe they are being used in a real life chess game in the hope they spend the last few years on this rock in prison..As some sort of twisted revenge.

    John Downey for want of better words produced a 'get out of jail free card' and the Hyde Park case fell apart..Then out of the blue they find evidence that links him to a 1972 bombing that murdered two men.. Maths aren't adding up..Smell revenge..

    What I also see is every few years the powers that be arrest through a blaze of publicity, either well known Republicans or Loyalists because they think they may have information or are connected to a murder 40/50 yrs ago. Wouldn't it have been easier to start at the end of the conflict and clear up unsolved murders. Maybe it is because the unsolved murder of Caroline Moreland or the unsolved murders of the Mount Vernon gang are too murky and too many people still alive, walking streets and the corridors of power. While asking whoever listens to 'the official narrative' to believe that finding the truth behind Jean McConville is the key to unlocking the truth of the conflict.

    As for 'Dave'. If he is found guilty and goes to prison for 2years (under GFA)..while he wont get out with a promotion as happened to Lee Clegg or any thing close to the promotion with benefits that Gordon Kerr received after running Brian Nelson..I wouldn't put it past the British Military putting 'Dave's' pension into a high rate interest account, so when he comes out he will be financially secure again..