Friday 17 November 2017

Is it possible to have justice and peace for Troubles victims?

David McKittrick examines the ethical dilemma raised by the arrest of Gerry Adams for a crime that took place in 1972

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams

David McKittrick

I WAS once invited by a cabinet minister, along with perhaps 20 other specialists of various sorts, to take part in a round-table conference in the splendour of a castle near Belfast.

The purpose was to examine the issue of dealing with the past and helping victims of the Troubles. Plenty of ideas were aired but the occasion produced no breakthroughs. That was more than a decade ago: and since then the issue has continued to bedevil Belfast.

The arrest of Gerry Adams illustrates one possible way of reaching back into the past, using the long arm of the law. It illustrates how tangled the issue of the past can become. For example, loyalist paramilitaries who cheer his detention have in recent years rioted when they themselves have faced sectarian murder charges.

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