Friday, 2 May 2014

"Arresting Gerry Adams will

just wreck peace in Northern Ireland," someone told me yesterday. This man has strong views on Ireland. He was born there but came to Australia as a very small child. He has never been back. It does not stop him having strong views about Northern Irish politics.
His parents, now deceased, were once supporters of the IRA - until they ran into trouble and had to leave. I suspect that this man is a sympathiser.
I don't know whether Mr Adams is innocent or guilty of the crime he is being questioned about. Given his history it is unlikely that he is innocent of all crime - but that will not, of course, mean that he should be convicted of something he did not have some role in.
But will it "wreck peace"? Should those charged with enforcing the law risk peace by arresting a popular figure? They are interesting questions.
If a "peace process" fails because of the arrest of one man for a serious crime then surely there never was peace? There might have been a temporary truce but it would never have been peace.
I suspect most people in Northern Ireland and other world trouble spots just want peace. They want to get on with their lives. This was certainly the view of a Northern Irish teacher with whom I went to university. She told stories of how her class in Belfast would dive under the desk whenever they heard gunfire in the late 60's and early 70's. I often wonder how children like that have turned out - and how so many other children in other similar situations have turned out and will turn out.
And should law enforcement risk that peace? Some people will say "no" and that the arrest of a high profile figure like Gerry Adams is "politically motivated". I doubt that. No government wants to risk a situation degenerating again. It costs too much in political, social and economic terms. Others will say "yes" and that there must be some reason to do so.
It may well be the end of the political road for Gerry Adams. He is now, whether convicted or not, likely to be considered too much of a liability. There has always been a question as to how far he was involved. Now other political leaders are likely to question whether he has been too involved. He may not be found guilty but the questions have finally been asked in a way that cannot be ignored, "What did he order? What did he know? What influence did he have? What control did he have?"
The families of those who "disappear" in any war have a right to answers.War doesn't end with peace and the signing of a treaty. It goes on for generations.

No comments: