Michael McDowell: When do we accept awful things cannot be undone?

Realpolitik may require a line be drawn over atrocities in pursuit of greater good

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson: His statute of limitation amnesty proposal is almost entirely motivated by a desire to satisfy right-wing British media and establishment guilt about the spectacle of seeing old men being punished by British courts for doing the dirty work asked and expected of them as squaddies. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson: His statute of limitation amnesty proposal is almost entirely motivated by a desire to satisfy right-wing British media and establishment guilt about the spectacle of seeing old men being punished by British courts for doing the dirty work asked and expected of them as squaddies. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP

I am not afraid of being in a minority – even a small minority. But there are a few things I would like to write here about the continued criminal investigation and prosecution of people accused of very grave crimes in the course of the Troubles.

Let me stress first that I am well aware that the Boris Johnson/Tory statute of limitation amnesty proposal is almost entirely motivated by a desire to satisfy right-wing British media and establishment guilt and shame about the spectacle of seeing old men being punished by British courts for doing the dirty work that was asked and expected of them as squaddies from Malaya, to Kenya, to Aden, to Iraq, to Afghanistan and other places, including Northern Ireland. It is not about closure; it is all about preventing disclosure.

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