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The killings of The Troubles should never be forgotten

IF it wasn't for euphemisms, we'd never be able to talk about Northern Ireland.

'The Troubles' – a quarter-century of murder, brutality, assault and criminality.

'The Disappeared' – people murdered in cold blood by terrorists.

'Volunteers' – murderers. 'The Peace Process' – the cessation of assassination and torture.

Euphemisms allow us to get past the awfulness of it all. More importantly, they allow for victims and perpetrators to work together in peaceful administrations in the North without having to constantly pick the scab of nearly three decades of sub-human behaviour.

But sometimes the euphemisms get in the way. Like this week, when we were introduced to the 'on-the-runs'. This term neatly substitutes for those 'suspected murderers' – 'suspected terrorists' who have been evading prosecution for more than a decade.

We have to accept that people who committed atrocious and heinous acts were set free as part of the Good Friday Agreement. That was part of the price to stop the murdering. By extension, we have to accept the logical extrapolation of that agreement – those accused of killing and butchery pre-1998 should not serve time for it.

Fine. So be it.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't call them the suspected murderers they are. Nor should it mean we do not prosecute them.

One of the legacies of Nelson Mandela's post-apartheid South Africa was the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, wherein atrocities were disclosed and responsibility taken, under amnesty from punishment. The same should happen with these people: they should be tried. If found guilty, the public should hear the details of what they did and the conviction should be registered against them regardless of whether or not they serve time.

To make murderers stop, we had to forgive the unforgivable. We never agreed to forget.


THE best line in the movie A Few Good Men belongs to Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson: "I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, yet questions the way in which I provide it!"

It's a line Angela Kerins (inset), the CEO of Rehab, could well have paraphrased to the Dail's Public Accounts Committee this week.

That's because we have nationally allowed ourselves to end up in the difficult position of purchasing service from entities like Rehab, then questioning the fundamentals of how those entities operate. The solution is simple: don't buy a service from them. All the State has to do in respect of any Section 38 or 39 body is say: "Here's the standards of transparency and corporate governance we expect if you want state cash. Meet those standards or we remove funding."

The HSE is already doing that with most of the Section 38s. We need the approach extended. The result would be better for everyone – the State would get transparency, the charities would be freed from being subjected to the court of public opinion and the rest of us would get clarity.

The problem is, as in A Few Good Men, it's easier to stay warm under the blanket they provide while bitching about how they provide it.


THE 81-year-old billionaire who reportedly paid $500,000 (€362,000) to have Kim Kardashian escort him to a ball in Vienna has allegedly said she was "annoying".

No. You don't say.

I'd have thought she'd be witty, erudite, selfless and charming.


ON a similarly shocking note, the Archbishop of Dublin has said that a survey carried out in his diocese showed there is a growing disconnect between the teachings of the Catholic Church on family matters and the real lives of families.

No. You don't say. I'd have thought they were bang up to date and down with the kids. Totes.