Friday 28 April 2017

In its Section 31 debate RTE failed to provide a word of reasoned defence

National broadcaster's exclusion of certain voices on legislation shows lack of fairness, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Former U.S. diplomat Richard Haass
Former U.S. diplomat Richard Haass

Eilis O'Hanlon

The Haass talks are so last year. But still, apparently, they rumble on. It's like finding the last Japanese soldier still fighting the war on a remote Pacific island. It all seems frightfully important to him. The rest of us have moved on. The latest "news" is that a deal is close on tackling so-called legacy issues, and that the British government, in the shape of Secretary of State Theresa "jolly hockey sticks" Villiers, is willing to fund . . . well, whatever pointless new agencies are set up to keep the restless locals from killing one another over "flegs", or Irish language street signs, or who gets the comfiest chair, or whatever else today's scandal happens to be.

It's a forlorn hope. Like every tantrum-throwing toddler, the North thrives on attention. Giving it to them just makes it worse. Politics, alas, is the business of doing things, even if those things make other things worse in the long run, so the sensible option of "ignoring them and hope they go away" has never been tried. It's particularly galling that the usual suspects are now demanding the Haass proposals be implemented in full when there's not the slightest chance of any of them actually abiding by the spirit of the deal even if they were universally adopted in a blaze of glory.

Here's a reminder of what the Haass proposals actually say: "To all those who may have relevant information, including individuals, members and former members of paramilitary organisations, members of political parties and other non-governmental organisations, and current and former employees of the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, we urge you to step forward with whatever information you have that may provide a degree of comfort to all those who lived through the conflict."

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