Yesterday evening the BBC aired the most entertaining Winter Olympic event to date. Ski cross features four downhill skiers, hurtling down a snowboard track, together. They hurdle jumps, perform hair-raising manoeuvres in order to overtake opponents and the inevitable tangled skis cause all manner of spectacular crashes. It was the second most compelling sport on TV last night, the first being Gerry Adams’ moral contortionism on Channel 4.
The Sinn Féin President’s meditations on ‘the Jesus story’ were predictably noxious. Predicated on a monstrous blend of moral relativism and abstraction, Adams’ gospel of the Troubles implies that the killers were no more culpable than the victims. And at the bottom of all our problems, original sin, exclusive to the English, to ‘the Brits‘, absolving Gerry and his comrades of any responsibility.
“Stupid operation” rather than barbarous mass murder, “political activist” rather than terror chief. Adams’ Orwellian lexicon is littered with euphemism. His favourite, last night, was ‘corporate responsibility’. We’ve heard it before, of course. Jeffrey Donaldson wasn’t interested in IRA members’ involvement in Paul Quinn’s murder, so long as the killing wasn’t ‘corporate’.
This morning Dawn Purvis, PUP leader, is quoted in the Belfast Telegraph, arguing that responsibility for Northern Ireland’s past should be allotted ‘organisationally’ rather than ‘individually’. She echoes UDA godfather, Jackie McDonald, who last week called for the Historical Enquiries Team to be shut down.
The logic that everyone is to blame, and that individuals cannot be held responsible for their actions during a ‘conflict’, might be seductive for paramilitaries and their representatives, but it is also a dangerous, immoral, unacceptable notion. Not one of the ‘actions’ carried out by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland were justified or justifiable. Not one terrorist, no matter how young, no matter how benighted his / her personal circumstances, had ‘no other option’.
However clamorous the revisionists and apologists become, we should always remember that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland neither supported nor participated in terrorist activities. They were not a privileged elite, they were not immune from communal pressures and political forces. The people who did murder and maim cannot wheedle out of responsibility for their actions by claiming special dispensation. It wasn’t the fault of the state, it wasn't due to their youth or naivety, it wasn’t the fault of ‘the Brits’. The blame lies squarely with them.