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Don’t repeat the mistakes US made in dealing with history, warns former envoy


Mick Mulvaney. Credit: Nicholas Kamm

Mick Mulvaney. Credit: Nicholas Kamm

Mick Mulvaney. Credit: Nicholas Kamm

Former US envoy to Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney has warned the UK Government against granting a general amnesty for Troubles-related crimes committed before 1998.

The ex-White House Chief of Staff said the UK should not repeat the mistakes the US made in dealing with its own troubled history since the American Civil War.

“My country is still wrestling with having, in many ways, ignored issues of race, slavery, reconstruction, segregation and the like from our past,” Mr Mulvaney (54) said, in an article for the Irish Times.

“That is in large part because what were once facts, known and provable to and by living people, have morphed into mythology.

“And myths have little room for facts.”

He took some encouragement from the fact that the Prime Minister’s proposals have met with universal opposition at Stormont.

“People in Northern Ireland know that an amnesty will not ‘draw a line under the Troubles’, as the Prime Minister has suggested,” Mr Mulvaney wrote.

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“It will simply lock them in a box. For now. Sooner or later they will find their way out.

“When they do, they will no longer be real people or real events. They will be the stuff of legend.

“People fight over their legends. And facts are weak against them.”

Mr Mulvaney felt it was important to deal properly with the issues before the passage of time transformed memory into myth.

“There is an opportunity to address the violence of the Troubles while the people who lived it are still able to stand up in public and talk about it,” he said.

“Still able to write it down. Still able to have their say, and their day. And that goes for everyone: veterans, loyalist paramilitaries, IRA members, and the victims on all sides.

“There is a chance to at least agree on what actually happened.

“But that chance will not continue forever,” Mr Mulvaney warned.

“This amnesty will make things easier for politicians, for sure. And it arguably may be easier for the citizenry.

“But only for today. It will inevitably make things harder for the generations to come,” he said.

Mr Mulvaney was appointed envoy to Northern Ireland by President Donald Trump in March 2020. He resigned in January this year, days before he was due to leave office, in protest after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol.

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