Restraint, truth and restorative justice needed

The implications of potential criminal charges against Gerry Adams for the future of peace in Northern Ireland draw timely attention to the loose ends that have as yet not been woven into the peace process.

In fact the process, if it is to be complete, must be one of justice, in so far as the demands of justice can be satisfied within the delicate equilibrium of political peace. If not, it will be a festering ground for the seeds of future strife. History shows that very often it is in the unfinished business of settlements and treaties that future conflicts are bred.

For the ideologically intransigent foot soldiers of Republicanism watching their leaders supping with Queen Elizabeth recently must have been like that unforgettable moment in Animal Farm when the animals peer through the window and see the pigs feasting with humans.

For the victims of IRA violence it was a moment of much deeper disillusion and hurt that can only be trivialised by comparisons. It is this watermark event in Windsor and everything it represents, rather than the upcoming elections, that is the real political backdrop to the arrest of Adams.

That is not to deny the very real danger, those who were feted within the gilded halls, may not themselves become disillusioned if damaged electorally and come to see themselves as the flies in the rhyme who accepted the invitation to the spider’s parlour.

Restraint and reticence on the part of the Governments of the Republic and UK are the very least of what is called for right now. Somewhere in the process of building peace there must be space for truth and restorative justice without jeopardising what has been hard won.

Margaret Hickey


Co Cork

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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