Browne is correct about the first two sections and simplistic about the third

The Irish Times – Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kenny in no position to throw stones

VINCENT BROWNE

Enda Kenny was afforded some further ammunition to target Sinn Féin by
the recent revelations about Dessie Ellis, the Sinn Féin TD for Dublin
North West, who certainly has questions to answer about the number of
people killed or maimed via the bombs he assembled or helped to
assemble during the decades of the Northern Ireland conflict.

He certainly won’t answer those questions and his Sinn Féin colleagues
will equivocate and dodge on his behalf, expressing indignation over
the baselessness of the killing and maiming claims, as though they are
not and were not fully aware of what Ellis had been up to during the
conflict.

This is part of the palaver of Sinn Féin, now much practised by
necessity, for copious palaver has had to be generated to avoid
dealing with the central role of Gerry Adams in the Northern killing
over those decades. There is no one in Sinn Féin who believes Adams
when he claims never to have been in the IRA, and many of us who as
journalists were close to the Northern conflict know about his central
role. But even if Adams were never in the IRA and was “merely” a Sinn
Féin ard comhairle member during all those years, he would still have
moral culpability for what happened, for he excused, defended and
egged on the campaign of murder and maiming. As president of Sinn Féin
he was the chief facilitator and apologist for the legion of
atrocities perpetrated by the IRA. We know, of course, his role was
far more than that, that he was the central cog in that murder machine
and has lied and lied and lied about it.

 

But Kenny should be careful about sticking the label of murderer on
him, speaking nowadays from benches populated by others who knew of
murder, maiming, mutilation, robberies, forgeries and intimidation,
and lived with it, seemingly undisturbed, for many years. The Official
IRA’s campaign of murder and criminality – conducted long after a
formal ceasefire in the middle of 1972 and extending well into the
late 1980s at least – was not on the same scale as that of the
Provisional IRA, but terrible things were done and terrible lies were
told for years and years also about that.

So, Kenny had better tread carefully about murder and criminality
during the Northern conflict – not that any of his present associates
were ever themselves involved in murder or criminality but rather that
they must have known what associates of theirs were up to at the time
and it took them a very long time to decide they did not want any
association with it.

There is a further point and it revolves around the question of
whether there is a significant moral difference between killing and
letting die.

If you are walking through St Stephen’s Green and see a one-year-old
child being thrown into the lake and you do nothing to save the life
of that child because you don’t want to dirty your clothes and shoes
by going into the lake and rescuing the child, is that significantly
morally different from killing the child? Even if there is a
significant moral difference, isn’t there something grossly immoral
allowing a child to drown in such circumstances?

Premature death

How much more morally reprehensible is it then to enact policies one
knows or should know, from published data, cause the premature death
of thousands of people annually in this country?

The Institute of Public Health (an all-Ireland body established under
the Belfast Agreement and funded by the British and Irish governments)
published a report in 2002 that showed more than 5,000 people died
prematurely every year here because of inequality.

It showed that in Northern Ireland and the Republic the “all causes
mortality” rate in the lowest occupational class was 100 per cent to
200 per cent higher than the rate in the highest occupational class.
For circulatory diseases it was more than 120 per cent higher. For
cancers it was more than 100 per cent higher. For respiratory diseases
it was more than 200 per cent higher. The incidence of suicide in the
lowest occupational class was more than 170 per cent higher than in
the case of the highest occupational class: nearly three times higher.
And this was not just because the health of people in the lower
occupational classes was worse: it was because social conditions
generally were worse. In other words, it was because of inequality.

Yes, this report is 10 years old and the data is almost certainly
unrepresentative of conditions today. But if there were even a modicum
of interest in how government policies were affecting society in this
the most fundamental aspect, surely the governments would have been
expected to have funded a follow-up study to determine whether the
situation was getting worse or better? But no, this State and, one
assumes, the British state and the Northern Ireland power-sharing
executive have no such interest.

Kenny should desist from stone-throwing.