The handling of the legacy of The Troubles looked as bad last night as it has for several years.
The government’s bill on the matter, which will amount to a de facto amnesty for perpetrators of historic murders, has again come under scrutiny from MPs.
They debated amendments to the controversial inheritance plan.
Most of the amendments were defeated except for one, which won cross-party support, to exclude rape from crimes covered by immunity. That sounds great, but we should think about the implications of such an amendment: it means that a sex offender will be prosecuted in court, rightly so, but a murderer or even a mass murderer will never be charged.
It’s bad enough that single murderers are granted amnesty, but truly sickening that the worst of these killers – the calculating, multiple murderers – do so.
The British government embarked on the plan because elderly soldiers were being put in the dock for shootings that took place half a century ago, almost all of which lacked premeditation. Yet carefully planned IRA killings do not lead to criminal conviction or punishment.
Why not? Why are the mass murdering IRA terrorists who have perpetrated decades of death and destruction, far more than anyone and pushing this society almost into civil war, not on trial but veterans who have committed unique murders , without premeditation, face charges? It is a scandal that government ministers are not even close to explaining. They are long overdue for announcing a detailed examination of the reasons for the imbalance, and how it may be that the IRA godfathers are not subject to the scrutiny that lowly soldiers face.
And the issue is not helped by the constant reports that “all political parties” oppose the bill. This only fuels the idea that trade unionists agree with Sinn Fein that the UK government is to blame for this. In fact, the villain is the Republican killing machine and the legacy processes that have done so poorly to scrutinize them.