The spread of British hypocrisy, from Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland to Syria

If arresting Adams just before the European elections was not political, then surely the British refusal to inquire into the slaughter in Ballymurphy was.

 

Share

The law is the law is the law. So I was taught as a child. But it’s all baloney. Take the case of Gerry Adams, “arrested” and then released after chatting to the Northern Ireland police – I notice the cops did not use the old cliché about “helping the police with their inquiries” – about the torture and murder and “disappearance” of Jean McConville. It is, to quote Fintan O’Toole, that wise old bird of Irish philosophy, “an atrocity that cries out for accountability” – in which Adams has consistently denied any involvement. Sinn Fein announced that Adams’s “arrest” was political, a remark that got the usual tsk-tsk from Unionists and British alike.

But alas, Theresa Villiers, the latest in the hordes of Northern Ireland secretaries to be visited upon Belfast, also announced, a wee bit before Adams’s “arrest”, that there would be no independent inquiry into the killing of 11 unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy in August 1971 by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, the most undisciplined British military unit to be sent to the province, which later killed another 14 civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday. In the Ballymurphy shooting, the Brits managed to kill a Catholic priest carrying an improvised white flag and a mother of eight children who went to help a wounded boy. The deaths of Father Hugh Mullan and Mrs Joan Connolly were also deaths that “cry out for accountability”. But of course, there will be none. Ms Villiers has seen to that.

She also ensured that there would be no inquiry into the fire-bombing of the La Mon hotel in 1978, when the IRA burned 12 people to death. Families of the dead have their suspicions that transcripts of police interviews with IRA suspects to this crime were removed from the archives to protect important people involved in the “peace process” in Northern Ireland. No complaints about that, needless to say, from the IRA. But you can see the problem: if arresting Adams just before the European elections was not political, then surely the British refusal to inquire into the slaughter in Ballymurphy – assuming the soldiers involved have not died of old age – was political. After all, the Brits know who these soldiers were, their names, their ages and ranks. They have much more than the statements of two dead IRA supporters – the “evidence” against Adams – to go on.

Now you may argue that the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday cost far too many millions of pounds to warrant another investigation into the Ballymurphy deaths. But then you may also ask why the soldiers who gave evidence to the original inquiry were given the cover of anonymity. This was something Gerry Adams was not offered – nor, given the favourable political fallout, was he likely to have asked for it. But then it would also be pleasant if the Brits who know something about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings during the worst days of the Irish war could pop over to Dublin and give a little evidence about this particular atrocity. No chance of that, of course.

And you don’t have to stick in Ireland for further proof of legal hypocrisy. Take our beloved Home Secretary’s decision to deprive British immigrants of their British passports if they go to fight Assad’s regime in Syria. Quite apart from the fact that William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and his friends originally supported the armed Syrian opposition, there are problems with the passport story. Many British supporters of Israel, for example, have fought on Israel’s behalf in Israeli uniform in that country’s wars. But what if they served in Israeli units known to have committed war crimes in Lebanon or Gaza? Or in the Israeli air force, which promiscuously kills civilians in war. Are they, too, to be deprived of their passports if they were not born in the UK? Of course not. One law for Muslims, another for non-Muslims – not unlike Spain’s offer of passports to the descendants of those driven from their homes in the 15th century, a generous act somewhat damaged by the fact that only Jews (not Muslims) may take advantage of it.

We will not dwell upon all the other hypocrisies of the Middle East – the outrage at any Iranian interest in acquiring nuclear weapons, for example, when another country in the region has an awful lot of nuclear weapons; or US fury at Russian annexation of Crimea but no anger at all about the annexation of Golan or the theft of Arab land in the West Bank, which are equally illegal under international law. Upon such foundations is aggression built: the illegal invasion of Iraq, for instance.

I contemplate all this because of a little research I’m undertaking about a Moroccan air force colonel who, in 1972, tried to stage a coup against the brutal King Hassan who was also, by the way, quite an expert on “disappearances”. Mohamed Amekrane flew to Gibraltar and threw himself upon the dodgy mercy of Her Majesty. He pleaded for asylum (after all, the coup had failed) but we packed him off back to Morocco because, while the European Convention on Human Rights gives anyone the right to leave his or her own country, no international treaty obliges a country to give that person asylum. So back Amekrane went – and was, of course, put to death. His widow eventually got £37,500 from the British government – ex gratia, needless to say, out of goodwill not guilt, you understand – and Colonel Amekrane was then erased from history. Interesting to see what happens to the ex-Brits who lose their passports for going to Syria – and have to go back to the country of their birth. They might be better off – and live longer lives – if they to go off to fight in another jihad.

The Great War’s forgotten victims in the Levant

Horrors of the Great War you will not read about this year: among the casualties were another million dead, the men, women and children of the Ottoman Levant – for which read modern-day Lebanon and Syria – who died of famine, victims of both the Allied blockade of the east Mediterranean coastline (which is why we ignore these particular souls) and of the Turkish army’s seizure of all food and farm animals from the civilian population; all this in addition to the million and a half slaughtered Armenians of 1915. Many Lebanese remember parents who ate nettles to stay alive, just as the Irish did in the famine. I have a book by Father Antoine Yammine, published in Cairo in 1922, illustrated with photos of stick-like children and of a priest in his habit lying dead on a Beirut street, another of a baby suckling at his dead mother’s breast outside their front door. “And some there be which have no memorial; who are perished as though they had never been…”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam