Editorial - Deflecting attention won’t work

Recent attempts by unionist politicians and academics to embroil the Irish government in the seemingly never-ending dispute over dealing with the past do not quite add up.

For years unionists argued and protested that the Dublin government should have no role in the affairs of the North before finally, albeit it reluctantly, agreeing to some measure of cross-border co-operation.

Now there is a growing call from some within unionism for the Dublin government to be held to account for allegedly not doing enough to combat republican violence during the Troubles.

While it is refreshing to see a new attitude to uncovering the truth of the past from political unionism, it is likely that this will be selective.

Calls for similar probes about the involvement of the British government and its various military agencies have not been greeted with enthusiasm from unionists in the past.

And it should be remembered that the Irish army did not kill anyone in the North during the Troubles, something which, cannot be said of the British army.

Attempts to create an equivalency between the armed forces of the British state, and a non-state actor such as the IRA, also highlight the political motivation behind this new approach.

None of this helps progress towards a shared society and it certainly does not serve the best interests of victims.

Instead it is a cynical attempt to deflect attention away from some of the key challenges of dealing with the past.

Those in the political establishment in the South would do well to see this latest unionist tactic for what it really is and not be tempted to play along in order to make narrow political gain at the expense of a genuine and reasoned discussion around the real issues of the past.