Sunday 23 October 2016

Tánaiste won't achieve without daring to fail

Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30

Robert F Kennedy
Robert F Kennedy

'Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." - Robert F Kennedy.

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A pity Frances Fitzgerald isn't as much of a follower of the Kennedy family as her boss, Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The Tánaiste's spin bubble burst badly yesterday when her anti-gangland crime crackdown was probed. It turns out the Justice Minister's announcements of initiatives to tackle the gangsters don't really amount to a whole lot.

Last week, she claimed the force is adequately resourced. This week, the minister admitted extra money will now be required. But she can't quantify the amount, pointing to a previous announcement that €5m will be made available to the Armed Support Unit and additional patrols. Now there's confusion over where that funding is going to come from.

More disturbing was her rationale for admitting there are "no plans" to raise the retirement age in the force - despite the fact that many senior officers with years of experience are close to exiting the force at a time of crisis.

The deputy leader of the Government was walking away from such a proposal because it might upset other public sector unions and cause disruption across other areas of the public sector.

Let them object. Gardaí retire far earlier than their counterparts within the public service, so they are already an exception to the general rules. There isn't a legitimate reason for another union to intervene in matters that are none of their business in a time of crisis. And if they do, the beleaguered Justice Minister will soon see how little support among the public there is for their stance.

Without even trying to explore an initiative which would keep gardaí on the beat, the Tánaiste adopts a defeatist attitude. Without daring to fail, you'll never achieve.

Victims of Birmingham bombs deserve justice

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister was among the 21 slaughtered in the 1974 Birmingham bombings, threw down this challenge to the IRA: "If you have any level of humanity and any moral compass, then by rights you should come forward."

Yesterday, the city's senior coroner, Louise Hunt, announced fresh inquests would be held after a marathon campaign by victims' relatives. The move follows new claims that police had prior knowledge of the attacks.

The atrocity produced Britain's most notorious miscarriage of justice, in which the wrongly convicted Birmingham Six spent 16 years in jail until they were exonerated. New evidence suggests the West Midlands Police missed not one but two potential warnings.

It may be that it is 42 years since the atrocity, but those whose lives were torn apart deserve closure.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said on the 30th anniversary of the Birmingham bombs that he regretted "what happened and I make no bones about that".

Victims of the two pub blasts have called on Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness to be quizzed over what they might know. The role of the police is murky; accounting for the apparent failure to react to the advance warnings it has been alleged that a blind eye was turned, as another outrage would help sway public opinion in retaining the Prevention of Terrorism Act. We may never know the full facts but it is imperative to try and establish them all the same.

The police have been rightly shamed, but the heinous murderers who slaughtered 21 innocent people out enjoying a drink are still at large, and must be called to account. This was not a consequence of "soldiers at war," it was a barbaric act of terrorism deliberately targeting and murdering civilians. Belated justice is better than none.

Irish Independent

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