Recently we had an incident where John Mason the MSP for Glasgow Shettleston was reported as having  Tweeted words to the effect that while some spoke of Irish Murderers, he spoke of Irish Freedom Fighters. The splat in the context of an anniversary of the brutal murder of three very young RHF soldiers in the early days of the troubles.

I was involved in a Facebook discussion about this and had to write quite a long piece. Having re read it I decided that it was really quite good and should be after editing, used as a Blog. I think with the rather fraught political situation I should publish some of my better Facebooks as Blogs. you never know I might get some readers if I publish enough a and they are worth reading

I am pulled two ways in this discussion.

I have served with one of the people very much effected by the murder. I have e had parties of Army Cadets  down at the Arboretum we had a small ceremony for the cadets, some of which were about the age of the three young men, where we placed poppy crosses below their names on the wall. I also remember the contemporary sheer horror of what happened, and it was seen as if a corner had turned in the troubles, things got even more brutal, I suspect that a lot of people realised that innocence had gone.

I abhor the IRA in whatever guise they come. However, either you have had a war, one which the IRA basically lost or you have had a civil insurrection in which case you are going to hunt the perpetrators of the various illegal actions on both sides. That means that some of the troops will also be caught up. They were not choirboys and they were fighting one of the most ruthless and determined enemies. In 1914-18 there was a saying that what happened in France stayed in France. That is not possible in the multimedia age.

The first requirement is that rather than constant repetition of the horrors which may or may not be ultimately played out in the courts, there needs to be some way in which a line can be drawn. I don’t know how, but I am sure that the criminal courts, whether with or without juries is not the best way to bring the kind of justice which people need.

Ultimately there is a need for restorative justice, but how that can be accomplished is difficult to see just how that will happen. What Ulster needs is some kind of peace and justice commission as they had in South Africa, though it has to be stressed that the comparison of the Blacks in South Africa and the Catholics of Northern Ireland is simply miss matched,  neither was the British State even at the hight of the troubles as repressive as the Afrikaans regime in South Africa. Simply there was never a majority kept as second class citizens by a minority. There was a majority who were not as open as they might have been to the aspirations of the minority which is a very different situation.

At the minute there is the appearance that the historical investigations people  seem to be going for the Security forces one suspects as it would be better documented than the terrorists. I don’t have an answer. The problem is that probably the price of some terrorist getting named is some soldier – who was operating in a different climate betting banged up for something which they did which they shouldn’t have. We have deep questions here about what Justice is and the whole question of the Just Rebellion and ow it can be dealt with. I don’t pops to even address these questions here.

We then put this whole situation in the context of Scottish Politics. Most of us in Scotland would wish that Northern Ireland is not in the context of Scottish Politics. The Independence movement in Scotland last took to arms about 1820 in the radical war, and it is debatable how much Nationalism was involved. Since then there has been virtually no violence (I don’t want to dig up what little violence there was as that would be a distraction, there is no point in whataboutary ). As far as violence in Scotland is concerned there is a tradition of some violence between gangs and connected with some football supporters. This is a generally deprecated  example of some of the people who are mainly supporters of one of two Glasgow Football teams who would appear to spew sectarian hatred and have a fixation of violence. There is not reason why a mainstream SNP politician would have given this very much thought. The SNP, and those who seek an independent Scotland has generally avoided any engagement with the situation in Ireland despite attempts to draw them into the situation. This is to such an extent that there has been a reluctance to ask for help from Irish political parties on the successful operation of STV in elections.

I am atypical in that I’m an Ulsterman and I have some sympathy with the Unionist population of Ulster as they are dumped by Westminster. At the same time their contributions to the debate in Scotland has not been positive. I remember a letter from the politician whom you will know as Baron Kilclooney, and whom I knew as John Taylor writing a particularly unhelpful letter during the Referendum Campaign.
The Ulster Unionist (in the broadest sense) have been poorly served in their advocates in Scotland who are seen marching and causing disruption to the lives of the population, thus it is that when the Nationalist (in the broadest sense) Irishman speaks he seems the centre of sense. Thus probably the majority of people in Scotland will not really know much about what has happened across the ditch. Th politician who made the statement about the IRA is a rather strange person. Very Socially and theologically conservative, in a context of liberalism, yet he survives in a party which is extremely democratic in the choice of its candidates for election.

I doubt that Nicola will want to get involved in the question of the Three Murdered Scottish Soldiers. This is really because this is the concern of another devolved administration, and I’m not convinced that the Scottish Government would welcome any interference from the Welsh or Northern Ireland politicians about a similar issue. One has immense sympathy with David McCaughey as he seeks to find some relief from a horror which has been in his family for most of his life. He has a perfect right to ask his MSP for support, but while the terms in which the MSP declined that support was unfortunate, it is difficult to see what an MSP would contribute to the solution of the problem which is really a Westminster question as it would appear to involve international relations.

We have of course how the forces of Unionism swarmed all over the story. Of course partly it is part of the continued SNPBAAD agenda. There was however a much more subtile issue and that is of course to make the SNP in some way appear soft on terrorism. Now Unionists are not known for the subtlety of their thinking. They can’t quite get their heads round the idea that they are British Nationalists, or that people would want to leave the UK not because of a great hatred for the present situation, but rather because it is self evident that the people living in a country are likely to be better at choosing the right choices for that Country than those who do not live in it. Unionists are still tied in with blood and soil nationalism. It was the Unionists who by and lerge argued that people born in Scotland should have a say in the last Referendum no matter where they lived as they were aware of the many people who had had to leave the country because of economic conditions and who felt, not that they had to leave because of the mismanagement of the Union, but that the Union in a way was offering them salvation from the incompetence of the Scots.

There is another spin off from this, that the SNP can be accused of either being soft on Terrorism, or even better, well disposed to it in Ireland, The First Minister is pictured with ex terrorists at ministerial meetings, is the not proof enough? A moments thought would show that the last thing which the SNP would want to do is to become involved in any way with Sinn Féin,  because in the context of Ireland her relationship with the Government of the Republic is so important for a future journey in the EU, that  she would hardly be encouraging the greatest danger to politics in the Republic. It boils down to how much support with either side in Ulster give on the BREXIT situation? That is a much more important political issue than some murders no matter how brutal in the Ulster War.

What we have to accept however is that Good Friday Agreement or not, the people of the North of Ireland still are going to have to go through a long and difficult period before they become a normal country (if ever. It may be that too much blood has been shed for there to be a realistic prospect of genuine peace in the hearts of the people). It behoves everyone who has a voice in Scottish Politics to do as much as they can to avoid playing to any of the stereotypes, not to seek equivalence between the sides in the  conflict, but to accept that some terrible things happened about which no one can be proud.