None of the Hooded Men were convicted as ultimately there was no evidence against them. More glaringly and importantly none of their torturers were ever convicted either, even though there was an abundance of evidence against them.
While the Dublin government has, perilously close to the deadline for referral, asked that the case be resubmitted to the European Court of Human Rights, the suspicion has to be that the Bold Fenian Men of Leinster House would never have graced the matter with more than a wince were it not for the nervousness that has gripped the Coalition as a result of increasing resistance to its assault on the disadvantaged. This susceptibility to the jitters takes on more pronounced form in the run up to the 1916 centenary which is now taking place against a backdrop of absolute kowtowing to British perfidy.
While the Dublin establishment was curtsying to the British queen, ‘radical’ Sinn Fein in tow, in a pretence of parity at nation state autonomy and mutual interdependence, it was conferring on Britain the right to spy on Irish citizens. Bottom line is, Britain bent the coalition over the banquet table and thoroughly stuffed it, wearing a big red a white and blue condom for its own protection. The Coalition was asked to maintain a stiff upper lip, lie back and think of the Troika, which of course it duly did.
The Fine-Gael Labour coalition is not in the slightest interested in what happened to the hooded men. It has an eye on the present not the past. If it were concerned with such things as past torture it would be looking to raise the question of the Garda heavy gang that plied its own torturous wares to people in custody back in the 1970s on the watch of a Fine Gael Labour coalition.
Even more shallow than the attitude of the Coalition that has been the depth of consistency to Ivor Roberts, the former British ambassador to Ireland. He has urged the Dublin government to let sleeping torturers lie in their beds, their sleep untroubled by the screams of their victims.
There’s so many things which with the benefit of hindsight one wish would have been done differently or not at all ... I think it’s time to move on and stop scratching at the scabs of history like this with which don’t serve any useful purpose. Instead I think they simply dance to a Sinn Fein agenda.
He is wrong on one thing: Sinn Fein doesn’t want the scab of the past picked at too closely unless it is on somebody’ else’s back. This is why we have seen the march along the Falls Road of one eye tribe demanding half the truth and the attempts to initiate a regime of fear around the Boston College project.
But are we hearing Mr Roberts correctly? Because if we are, then the old Shirley Valentine quip was devised as a retort to the bull of this one eyed Nelsonian: tickle my tits to Friday. This is the British establishment that could not resist picking at the scab of the past when it thought it was only a republican scab being picked over in Boston College. Whatever Ivor Roberts is for, he is not for real.
I don’t believe in using the means of the past to deal with the past, court cases, imprisonment and all that. It failed us in the past and is unlikely to serve us any better in the future. But it is hard not to derive some satisfaction from seeing the pointing finger of Britain poke itself in its solitary eye.