TRUTH RECOVERY, THE JANUS EFFECT AND LEGACY ISSUES.
Many political commentators, representatives of victims groups, traditional nationalists and unionists and ‘assorted others’ hope that the recent elections to Stormont will herald, finally, a move towards full truth recovery and the mixture of retribution, revenge, recognition and support that will surely follow. The ‘victims’ lobby firmly believe that they have been seriously overlooked and probably re-victimised by the failure of successive Stormont initiatives in general and by a succession of Secretarys of State in particular. Most people would have some degree of sympathy with victims on this issue. It seems that when the ‘peace process discussions’ reached the ‘home straight’, attention to detail on the ‘victims issue’ was overlooked in order to get the agreement over the line, so to speak. This is now coming back to bite us all on the bum. The debacle of the ‘on the runs’ and other unpalatable decisions introduced by Blair and his acolytes have had the media ‘spotlight’ shone on them and it’s now the time for victims and survivors to take centre stage.
Different interpretations of the meaning of ‘truth’ abound and no more so than in Northern Ireland. Martin Heidegger, the German Philosopher refers back to the Ancient Greek meaning- ‘Un-concealment or the revealing or bringing of what was previously hidden into the open’. The unveiling of ‘truth’ can be a liberating act – the final act in a process sought to deliver true democracy and ‘parity of esteem’. If only that were the case. When all aspects of the security forces, here and around the world, former colleagues, comrades, friends and republican and nationalist commentators and the vast majority of the Northern Ireland population articulate their belief, based on knowledge, that Gerry Adams masterminded the most ruthless, bloody and indiscriminate terrorist campaign ever seen in Europe – his response is ‘that’s not the truth’. Some of his most recent utterances has placed himself on the bus with Rosa Parks, led the ‘civil rights movement’ and ‘trampolined’ naked with his dog!!! The range of topics, issues and historical events at the receiving end of Gerry’s rewriting is legendary. He is not alone in this respect. What is the real truth for Gerry? Will we ever know?
The ancient Roman god, Janus was believed to preside over the beginning and ending of conflict – Gerry certainly has had a role something similar in this latest conflict, though the depiction of Janus having two faces – for looking to the future and the past, wouldn’t be a good description of Gerry – being ‘two-faced’ is probably more apt.
Of course, Truth Recovery will be extremely important to the supposed implementation of the ‘Fresh Start’ document, but it will be viewed as part of a wider issue – ‘Legacy’. For Truth Recovery to have any chance of working will be incumbent on Legacy issues being resolved to the benefit of all sides and shades of opinions – a massive problem to implement. Collins defines legacy as ‘something handed down from an ancestor or predecessor’. That description is quite relevant in this debate – ‘We were born into these troubles’, has been a strap-line used by many ex-combatants and is useful when used contextually. Stormont and its newly elected MLA’s have a mountainous challenge, that may be helped if the spirit of Janus – looking to the future and back at the past, is adapted and forms any discussion about the past.
A South Belfast ‘Janusian’.