As one BBC NI journalist noted, there was something strangely curious about a BBC Spotlight programme on IRA gunrunning during the “peace” process occurring alongside the State dinner at Windsor where an IRA Commander supped with the Queen.
Three people – two police officers and one with alleged RIRA links – were plainly murdered with the guns so run, post-ceasefire. Their families lack justice, nor even the truth, about what happened.
It is one thing for them to be asked to bear the burden of constructive ambiguity, but there comes a time when the ambiguity becomes destructive. Without at least truth there is no justice, and without justice there can be no true peace. We need be in no doubt that many communities in Northern Ireland continue to “self-police”; the law is dished out by self-appointed men and not by the courts. The NIO, as it always has done, turns a convenient blind eye to it.
There must be at least some semblance of justice – both past and present – or we can forget about the future. Most of all, we cannot allow another generation to grow up thinking terrorists are cool and victims are a nuisance.
This is not a sham peace – it is real. But it is a sham democracy. Not because there is no “opposition” or such, but because there is no justice – at least not one equally and fairly applied. And without real democracy, peace can only ever be temporary.