Ah, the past. When you could get a bag of fish and chips, a cigarette and the Beano for 6d and tuppence back in change. And when that old saying ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ actually meant something.
Those days are gone, I’m afraid. ‘Anger as Omagh accused is cleared for second time’ is the headline in today’s Irish News, and on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this morning, a similar line was taken. Colm Murphy ‘walked free’ from the Special Criminal Court in Dublin when it was found he had no case to answer over the 1998 bombing of Omagh. Why did the case against Mr Murphy collapse? Because, it seems, some detectives had fabricated evidence – they’d tried to stitch Mr Murphy up. But on the BBC Radio Four programme, Jeffrey Donaldson insisted that there was plenty of evidence only unfortunately it was Intelligence Services material and was inadmissible. The Irish News quoted Labour Party spokesman Pat Rabbitte: “Even in the investigation of the most heinous offences, investigating officers must remain within the law and there can be no shortcut to convictions”. You get the message? Perfectly good evidence was blocked by an unfortunate technicality and If the long and normal route to convictions had been followed, there’d probably have been a different result. No sense of outrage over corrupt cops faking evidence, no acceptance that justice might have been done when Mr Murphy was set free.
Weird, isn’t it? Upholders of the law are deeply angry that, um, the law has been followed. It would appear that it’s not only paramilitaries who’d like to act as judge, jury and executioner.