Current Affairs Politics

Jeremy Hunt: To Protect Peace, Both Sides In Troubles Need To Be Treated The Same

After two years of Brexit-frenzied politics in the United Kingdom it’s almost shocking to hear a UK leader expressing a degree of nuance and insight when it comes to Irish and British relations. But that is the case with Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and a right-of-centre contender for the leadership of the Conservative Party in London. During a Sky News digital hustings broadcast that also appeared on the Tories’ social media channels the Sussex MP seemed to equate the actions of British soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents who participated in the so-called Troubles of 1966 to 2005 with those of their Irish opponents in a discussion over the possibility of immunity from prosecution or investigation for any acts of terrorism or murder the UK forces may have committed:

“I want to be honest about this, you know, the peace in Northern Ireland was hard won and under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, there is a need to treat both sides in the same way, however angry we may have felt about what happened.”

His implied comparison between the motivations and actions of the British Army and the Irish Republican Army have infuriated the nationalist press and media in the UK, even though the minister prefaced his remark by arguing that historical prosecutions should be ended. However a number of his parliamentary colleagues are demanding a swift retraction and apology from the previously pro-Remain MP. Notable among these is the fanatical Brexiteer Mark Francois, a middle-aged overweight Londoner who has adopted a buffoonish image as a bargain bin Winston Churchill with a liking for World War Two rhetoric and dog-whistle xenophobia aimed at the European Union.

I suspect that Jeremy Hunt will clarify his comments over the next day or two, especially as his main rival Boris Johnson, who is struggling in his own leadership campaign, takes up the cause of the formerly shielded “veterans” of the UK’s dirty war in Ireland. But the minister’s remarks do at least indicate that there are some politicians in Britain with a modest understanding of how words and policies in their country are reverberating on this side of the Irish Sea and further destabilising an already precariously balanced peace in the Six Counties. Even if, in Hunt’s case, his full comment was in justification and support of those lobbying to hide UK personnel from justice.

4 comments on “Jeremy Hunt: To Protect Peace, Both Sides In Troubles Need To Be Treated The Same

  1. David Mac

    Looks like he will not win and the fool Boris will, so there will be an amnesty extended to their soldiers and police. It just a matter of time when the GFA is torn up as the Tories are keen to leave the European Court of Human Rights-ECHR. and pursue a retro Empire 2 . Such populist actions represent cheap raw meat to feed his core supporters .

  2. One game that the calls for amnesty might be playing is this. It could be a sort guilt trip game. The bottom line is that the hidden accusation is “If you portray British soldiers badly or say we shouldn’t have partitioned Ireland or let her go free much sooner, you are saying those men died for nothing…….And how can you say that to their mothers’ faces.”

    Basically it’s a cheap dirty form of emotional blackmail. Never admit something is wrong because the families would be distressed by hearing certain troops “died for nothing”.

    One dynamic I’ve seen many times is that some people who have lost somebody for no good reason-that had nothing to do with the war in question- will sort of funnel their own grief at a senseless tragedy into the machinations of a politician who would use it for political purposes. I’ve seen it many times with people whose family members died of senseless things with no connection to the war. People who’ve had a relative murdered, or killed by a drunk driver. It works amazingly well with some folks.

    Another thing is that The British system seems fairly based on personal connections, as most of the people in charge went to a small set of “public” schools. They are a good sized nation with a relatively protean un codified Constitution, a toothless judicial system, and a political system that leans heavily on custom and tacit understanding. Many other nations with Empires such as France were quite the opposite. This could mean that a lot of British institutions are just extremely good at fostering in-group loyalty.

  3. Agree completely, it tells us how far things have gone wrong that for someone to express a reasonably sane viewpoint is actually near enough incredible at this stage.

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