As I write this I’m sitting waiting to be called by the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC radio, to talk about whether British soldiers from here are being treated unfairly. It appears that Scotland, Wales and England all have a specially-appointed advocate to see that soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress are looked after, following time spent in Afghanistan or Iraq. There’s no such advocate for this region. If the debate happens – these things are a moveable-at-the-last-moment feast – I plan to argue for equal treatment for British soldiers from here.
Not that anyone should be surprised because things here are different –this sad little corner always has been made an exception. I interviewed a woman yesterday – Bernadette McAliskey. Decades back when as the youngest MP ever she made In her maiden speech in the House of Commons, she denounced the British government for looking the other way while a corrupt, discriminating state was allowed to grow and grow until it exploded into violence. So the different treatment of British soldiers from here doesn’t surprise me.
There’s a terrible irony, too, in the concern for the suffering of British troops but considerably less concern for those who were their victims. The Bloody Sunday families had to wait nearly forty years for a “Sorry!” from David Cameron, let alone justice. Far from helping victims, the British government blocked the release of vital documents for decades. It’s done the same over the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Or consider the victims in the Finucane family, who saw their husband and father riddled with bullets at the dinner table by people acting with the support of the ‘security forces’. Their pursuit of truth continues, the latest development featuring another slap in the face from Cameron, who refuses to hold an inquiry into the lawyer’s death. And there are dozens of other victims of state violence suffering and we never even hear about them.
Last Friday I saw George Clooney’s latest movie, The Ides of March. It features Clooney as a US presidential candidate, and there’s one memorable moment where he talks about how to solve the problem of terrorism. “Stop depending on their oil” he says. “Stop invading their countries. Then the terrorism will stop”.
Maybe Cameron and his cabinet should all be bought a ticket for The Ides of March. With post-traumatic stress as with so much else, prevention is the best cure.