BELFAST Telegraph journalist Sam McBride on Monday joined the serried ranks of journalists and politicians outraged by the suggestion of Victims’ Commissioner Ian Jeffers that compensation should be paid to the families of all victims of the conflict here. Sam was singing a familiar tune, but for Squinter this was somewhat different as Sam’s among the small number of reporters here who aren’t afraid of getting stuck into everybody – regardless of what rosette they’re wearing on your doorstep come election time.

The article was a disappointing mish-mash of unionist talking points and invocations of dog-eared and irate columns from others who stated the bleedin’ obvious – that attempting to impose a compensation scheme that would sort the families of dead people by their allegiance and motivation is the road to no town. And because Squinter has regard for Sam, he wrote an unprecedentedly long reply on Twitter, which is perhaps worth repeating here. 
• I've taken a bit of time to respond to this by Sam McBride today as he's a journalist whose work I admire and who I think deserves more than a drive-by tweet...
• Please get it right, Sam. Conflict compensation is clearly a moral issue for you, as it is for many others. And that’s fine. But say that. Too many with platforms presume to speak for all – and there lies the legacy roadblock. It's certainly not a moral issue for me and many.
• You can disagree with/lambast Victims' Commissioner Ian Jeffers all you want, but the simple reality is there can be no 'fair' compensation scheme and every effort to date to acknowledge that simple reality has been shrilly shot down. Why? In large part because it's so, so easy.

• Everyone who's taken on the challenge and taken a stand has my thanks for their courage. And I often wonder where we'd be now if they'd received a political and media hearing instead of a beating. In a better place, I'll wager, as it couldn't be any worse. Because you know what?
• Their ideas aren’t ‘warped’; they're not in a ‘moral quagmire’ – they're appalled by atrocities too but go beyond that. Acknowledging one’s morality as objective is a vanishingly rare thing; it's why humans seek and find comfort in bogus certainties of principle and rectitude.
• Compensation will be paid or it won't as there's no way to sort the broken and the dead of 25 years of chaos into two neat ranks of angels and demons. Your article's been written a hundred times in the past by others,the words in a different order. Result? Here we are again.
• I've palmed my face over the years at the cut-and-paste Orwell Wikiquotes which don’t even touch the sides on the complexity of that author’s thinking on free will. I've too often puffed my cheeks out at those who saw morality as transactional and allegiance as exculpatory.
• My 14-year-old sister was shot by the British army. I don’t want whoever killed her in a dock (if he’s alive); I want to leave him alone with his life and his family (perhaps even his 14-year-old granddaughter). Not because I'm a moral martyr, but because I’m fucking exhausted.
• Exhausted by our endless performative judging, exhausted by our conscription of victims and families as cannon fodder in the battle for a non-existent moral superiority. If I get a few hundred quid will it make a blind bit of difference to me if a dead killer’s brother does too?
• How could it? You can continue to be outraged on my behalf or that of others if it makes you feel better, but I prefer to hope whoever gets money gets what they need from it; and more importantly, that such an act of giving can bandage off this scab from constantly being picked.

• There was no victory in the conflict and there’s certainly no victory to be had in either the granting or the refusing of compensation three decades on. The truth is, we're in a legacy Limbo and there we'll stay if the only exit is by way of a morality means-test.