The Consultative Group on the Past has commenced its meetings in inauspicious fashion, by suggesting that the British Government may be asked to accept that the IRA’s campaign of terror and that waged by other paramilitary groups constituted a war. There is more at stake than semantics because this definition is likely to facilitate a process whereby paramilitaries are granted amnesty in return for details about their activities.
Such a move would pander to republican revisionism which attempts to retrospectively legitimise their tawdry campaign of violence. The attempt to justify their activities by claiming that they were fighting for human rights has been discussed and dismissed below, but attempting to equate murders of civilians, police officers and off duty soldiers with acts of war by a bona fide army is another strand of the republican agenda.
To defer to this agenda is not necessary. The Alliance’s Stephen Farry is correct when he contends that there are other methods of inducing ex-paramilitary criminals to divulge their nefarious activities without inflicting the insult to victims that recognising these activities as acts of war entails.