Category: Asset 4Editorial

Ruling the waves, now waiving the rules

March 7, 2012

By Staff Reporter

Queen Elizabeth and President McAleese at Croke Park.

Why is Britain only interested in the Boston College records dealing with the Northern Ireland Troubles? Will Britain do in Northern Ireland what they are demanding of the United States?

More questions to ask.

Will the British authorities share their files on the murder of civil rights attorney Patrick Finucane, gunned down in his home with his family looking on? Will they identify those behind the killers and bring them to justice?

Will they identify the six RUC officers who broke into the home of Sam Devenny in Derry and beat him on the head with their batons, in front of his family. He died of his head injuries. That was 1969.

Will they open the files and share the data, identify the men who shot and killed Carol Kelly, aged 7, as she walked home from the store with a bottle of milk for her mother?

Will they identify the soldiers who killed innocent people at the border between the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the boys and men working on their farmlands who were random targets and lost their lives to bullets fired by British troops?”

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Will they identify the soldiers who fired plastic bullets at homes and, in one case, blinded an elderly woman for life as she sat in her home listing to traditional Irish music?

Will they identify the soldiers who halted my U.S. congressman and asked to see his papers?

When he presented his U.S. passport and his congressional identification they threw them on the ground, stomped on them and said, “those papers mean nothing in Britain.”

The main question in need of a response is will they open, at long, long last, all their files in which answers to these, and thousands of other questions dealing with so many cases are to be found? Will they respond to the requests of the families who lost loved ones and cannot rest until they know that justice will be finally served?

Will these cases be opened for review and inspection as they are requesting Boston College to do?

Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized 150 years after the Great Famine in Ireland caused the deaths and forced emigration of millions of men, women and children.

The current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologized for the British paratroopers who fired on, and killed 14 men and boys walking peacefully in Derry on Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972. They were marching for one man one vote, fair employment, civil and human rights.

Cameron rightly condemned the actions of the paratroopers who were not acting in accordance with their own rules of engagement. The paratroopers were not fired on. They shot first, he said.

Cameron condemned the events of that day. The shooters, however, have never been identified.

Queen Elizabeth, during her May, 2011 visit to Ireland, as a guest of Ireland’s President Mary McAlese, placed a wreath at the graves of the heroic 1916 leaders. She bowed her head at the graves of the brave, dedicated men who ultimately gained independence from English rule for 26 of the 32 counties.

She bowed her head at the final resting place of these patriots, whom her grandfather’s government ordered executed when they were captured and incarcerated.

Elizabeth also visited Croke Park in Dublin where his majesty’s soldiers once shot and killed players on the field and wounded spectators in the stands by spraying them with rounds of bullets.

The image of Queen Elizabeth and President McAleese, seated side by side in an empty stadium, will remain in the minds of us all. Their presence, their silence, their somber expressions of respect, reached the hearts of many. The spirit of the moment has yet, it would seem, to reach into other corners of the British administration.

The queen’s actions during her Irish visit were respectful and were matched by her words, spoken at both informal and formal events. At long last, Ireland’s tragic history was recognized by an English monarch who had paid a long-awaited tribute to all those whose lives were lost down the centuries.

But now, and despite this, Britain’s judicial system is extending its reach to America, specifically to Boston College, and through it back to Ireland again.

I cannot help but wonder if Queen Elizabeth is aware of the legal demands being made against a private Catholic college in America. They appear to be a complete contradiction of the spirit of her actions and words in May of last year.

England ruled Ireland from across the Irish Sea. Now her judicial system is reaching out across the Atlantic Ocean, right into the United States, its judicial system, and ultimately to the campus of Boston College.

Britain petitioned the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. in this case. Ironic isn’t it, given that it was England that burned Washington, including the White House, on August 24, 1814.

Now, Britain, by way of one of its police forces, is demanding, in the city of Boston – where our own fight for independence from English rule started – that a private college turn over files for possible use in prosecuting individuals in Ireland.

People who had been centrally involved in the Troubles agreed to be interviewed for an archive to be held by Boston College. Their taped  interviews were to be sealed and not opened to the public until a certain time after their deaths. But subpoenas are now prizing what should be revelations from the grave before the revealers are in their graves.

Grover Cleveland, the only American president born in New Jersey, once represented American citizens being arrested in Ireland and England during the troubles of his day.

England was arresting them on suspicion of being connected with Irish and Irish-American organizations advocating Ireland’s independence. He spoke out. He represented their rights as American citizens overseas. He represented them as a lawyer and government official. He saw to their release in Britain.

So what would Grover Cleveland make of these present day attempts to reach across the ocean and into America’s legal system? I would venture to say that he would not be impressed.

For centuries, England boasted that Britannia ruled the waves. Now, Britain is attempting to waive the rules.


Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter