Despite the thousands and thousands of words written and spoken about the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams no one asked the critical question: should justice for the orphaned McConville family of 1972 be sacrificed in the interest of permanent peace for the children yet unborn?
Of the IRA Gerry Adams said: “while I have never dissociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville.”
Presume Mr Adams was linked to that heinous crime in 1972, for the sake of today’s children and the children yet unborn, should Adams and those IRA, UVF, and UDA leaders who navigated those killer organisations away from the killing fields be rewarded by the State?
Should their crimes remain ignored?
This is a hugely ethical question. Is it moral sometimes to act illegally, to wittingly bend the rule of law in the interest of what the State would argue ‘is for the greater good?’
This was the thesis prosecuted to defend a policy of ‘shoot to kill’ (even though the State refused to call it this) during the Troubles.
The line of argument proffered was ‘in the interest of the greater good.’ The same defence obtained for governments engaging directly with leaders of paramilitary organisations down the years. It happens all over the world.
The arrest of Gerry Adams prompted an uncharacteristic outburst from Martin McGuinness who spoke of a ‘cabal’ within the PSNI.
There was a palpable anger in the republican camp. There was more than a hint of the bad old days, the hunger strike era etc. The DUP alleged that republicans were ‘blackmailing’ the PSNI.
Whatever the motive of the authorities for arresting Gerry Adams the fallout was immense with alarm bells sounding in London, Dublin and Washington.
Put brutally, if going after every leading paramilitary suspect who helped to broker the peace process, endangers the current administration, is that justified?
What of the rôle of State killers, Ballymurphy, Finucane, spooks, the ‘dark side?’
Ethics, ethics, ethics… morality?