Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Hain motivated by an “improper political purpose” in Commissioner’s appointment

Thu 9 November 2006, 6:09pm

More trouble at NIO mill, this time right at the top with the Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain severely criticised in a High Court judgement today following a long review. The BBC report the ruling of Mr Justice Girvan that Peter Hain “acted for an improper motive” when appointing Bertha McDougall as the Interim Victims Commissioner and Mr Justice Girvan also referred to “evasive and misleading” information in correspondence with the court. The ruling isn’t is online here, but the BBC report has extensive quotes. The government recently announced their intention to appoint a new Commissioner early next year UpdatedFrom the BBC report

The judge referred to “evasive and misleading” information in correspondence which led to Mr Hain contending there was no evidence to justify Mrs Downes’ challenge based on alleged improper political considerations.

He said that if the Court of Appeal had not allowed that ground to stand then Mr Hain would have successfully frustrated her challenge by withholding material evidence.

“This case, thus, raises very serious issues which should be the subject of immediate and searching inquiry at a high level,” said the judge.

He said a statement by Nigel Hamilton, head of the civil service, that Mr Hain was “mindful” that the DUP had recommended Mrs McDougall had put a spin on the true situation.

The inference to be drawn is that the respondent (Mr Hain) was attempting to divert attention from the true course of events,” he said.

Mr Justice Girvan said he had concluded that Mr Hain was motivated by politcal considerations in deciding not to carry out a proper procedure to identify the best candidate.

“This leads to the conclusion that he acted for an improper motive,” he said.[added emphasis]

Additionally

He said: “The relevant government departments initially provided partial, misleading and incorrect information as to the manner of the appointment, failing to disclose the true nature of the limited consultation which took place with one political party (the DUP); implying that no consultation took place when it had; and giving the false impression that the appointment was made on the basis that the appointee was the best candidate in terms of merit when in fact the ordinary principles applicable to an appointment solely on merit were disregarded.“[added emphasis]

Update

From the court ruling

Improper Motive

[51] On the issue whether the Secretary of State made the appointment for an improper motive (namely for political purposes in response to a demand for confidence building measures by the DUP) the conclusion is reached that the Secretary of State was motivated by political considerations to decide not to carry out a proper procedure to identify the best candidate. This leads to the conclusion that he acted for an improper motive. The political consideration which the Secretary of State considered trumped the need to make the appointment fairly having regard to the proper understanding of the merit principle could not justify committing an act of discrimination rendered unlawful under Section 76. Even apart from Section 76 the appointment would have been in fundamental breach of all the relevant Codes relating to the making of public appointments.[added emphasis]

[52] There is nothing to indicate that the DUP was expecting or demanding that their nominee should be appointed if she was not the best of the candidates. Doubtless the DUP was anxious to advance the interests of victims and doubtless they considered that their nominee was a strong candidate. The DUP would presumably say that they did not expect or demand that the Secretary of State should disregard the principle of merit in the choice of the IVC. The elected political leaders of the party would be bound to subscribe to the standards set out in the Members’ Code of Conduct which demands of MPs full acceptance of the merit principle. The fact is that the Secretary of State decided to disregard the accepted merit norms applicable to public appointments in order to secure the appointment of the DUP’s nominee who ex hypothesi might not have been the best candidate, simply because she was the DUP’s candidate. The merit principle is based on a rational and sensible principle, namely that the successful candidate should be the person best able to do the job and give best value for money. The proper purpose for the appointment of the IVC who was being funded from public moneys was the purpose of appointing the person best able to advance the interests of victims, albeit on an interim basis. Inasmuch as the respondent failed to appreciate that point and allowed the political nomination to circumvent proper inquiry into the relative merits of the candidates he was not making the appointment for the proper purpose. The rationale behind the respondent’s actions was that by making an appointment disregarding the relative merits of the candidates the interests of political confidence would be advanced. This approach presupposed a belief that in some way the DUP would be impressed by an action which disregarded established norms of appointment and disregarded the merit principle to which ministers and MPs are committed by the relevant Codes of Conduct. The respondent’s rationale was not a legitimate or proper one.[added emphasis]

And in his conclusion Mr Justice Girvan states

Conclusions

[59] The appointment of Mrs McDougall

(a) breached section 76 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;

(b) being in breach of the accepted merit norms applicable to public appointments and in breach of the Ministerial Code of Practice in the circumstances the appointment, was in breach of the power of appointment under the Royal Prerogative;

(c) was motivated by an improper purpose, being motivated by a political purpose ( so called confidence building) which could not be legitimately pursued at the expense of complying with the proper norms of public appointments where merit is the overriding consideration; and

(d) failed to take account of the fact that there was no evidential basis for concluding that the appointee would command cross-community support.

[60] The relevant government departments initially provided partial, misleading and incorrect information as to the manner of the appointment, failing to disclose the true nature of the limited consultation which took place with one political party; implying that no consultation took place when it had taken place; and giving the false impression that the appointment was made on the basis that the appointee was the best candidate in terms of merit when in fact the ordinary principles applicable to an appointment solely on merit were disregarded. The true basis of the appointment did not emerge from the letter of 5 January 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act. The respondent opposed the grant of leave to apply for judicial review of the appointment by reliance on the case made out in the misleading letter and failed to reveal to the court the true factual situation prevailing. The court at first instance was accordingly misled and refused leave on an incorrect basis. When the applicant appealed the respondent sought to persuade the Court of Appeal to refuse the appeal by reliance on the same flawed material. When leave was granted the respondent put forward Mr Hamilton as the person with knowledge of the true circumstances relating to the appointment. His affidavit which was seen and sanctioned by the Secretary of State was ambiguous and failed to disclose all the relevant material pertaining to the appointment. When the court ordered the cross-examination of the deponent the respondent sought to appeal against that decision and to rely on an affidavit which it is now conceded was unsatisfactory and failed to disclose all the material circumstances of the appointment. Before the appeal came on for hearing the respondent filed an affidavit from Mr Phillips which purported to set out the full factual situation. No effort was made to explain how Mr Hamilton’s affidavit came to be formulated in a way which was ambiguous and incomplete and implicitly Mr Phillips did not ascertain what aspects of the case as set out in his affidavit actually fell outside the knowledge of Mr Hamilton. No explanation was provided as to how the Secretary of State came to approve and sanction the swearing and filing of an affidavit which Mr Phillips acknowledged was incomplete. Had leave been refused by the Court of Appeal to apply for judicial review the true evidential position would not have come to light and the interest of justice would have been frustrated. Had the respondent succeeded in resisting the cross examination of Mr Hamilton the respondent would have been relying on an affidavit which it is now conceded was incomplete and unsatisfactory. This likewise would have frustrated the interests of justice. In adopting the course that was followed starting with the letter 0f 5th January 2006 and continuing up until the filing of Mr Phillips’ affidavit and the concession made to the court that the letter was misleading the respondent failed in his duty of candour to the court.[added emphasis]

Adds For completeness here’s the final paragraph of the conclusion to the judgement

[61] Nothing in this judgment should be taken as in any way reflecting on Mrs McDougall, on her competence, integrity or quality of workmanship during her tenure of office . She was in no way privy to the inner workings of government in relation to the manner of her actual appointment. She has no doubt carried out her functions competently, conscientiously and to the best of her ability. Similarly it should be recorded that there is no evidence that the DUP expected or demanded that their nominee should be given preference in disregard of the ordinary merit principle. Neither the IVC nor the DUP were parties to this application. It will be necessary to hear further argument on the appropriate relief to be granted in the light of this ruling. In view of the impact of any order on Mrs McDougall’s rights and interest she should be given notice of her entitlement to appear and be heard on the issue of the appropriate relief. Subject to hearing argument on the point, it would appear that any costs incurred by her in such an appearance should be defrayed by the respondent.

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Comments (42)

  1. Mark says:

    Will this affect the legitmacy of the report currently being put together by Mrs McDougall?I f the appointment is improper can MrsMcDougall’s findings be considered legitimate? Or is it back to the drawing board?

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  2. Bemuse d says:

    Fucki ng hell – I’d strongly recommend that people read the judgement in it’s entirety. The N.I.O.’s conduct relating to this appointment and the subsequent J.R. is breathtakingly outrageous. In any other civillised democracy Hain would be resigning forthwith.

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  3. ciaran damery says:

    Once again the British viceroy has insulted the Irish people with his blatant, sectarian nomination. Moreover, the appointment was made at the behest of Paisleyites. Imagine, a nominee of Paisleyite fascists was chosen to advocate on behalf of victims.

    A similar situation occured when two members of the Orange were appointed to the ‘parades board”.

    In both situations no nationalist was considered.

    Orangemen deemed neutral and thus suitable candidates in what is supposed to be a neutral body, designed to rule on Orange parades of hate?

    What the hell is Hain up to.

    Tell me it’s a joke. Or do people really believe that Hain is acting impartially?

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  4. Typical says:

    Any chance this can be discussed for what it is – a political scandal at the NIO – without intrusions like that by Ciaran Damery, which only serve to sectarianise this issue in a way that will suit the NIO’s purposes only too well?

    Nobody, including those who called for the judicial review, is casting any doubt over the integrity of the commissioner herself and the language used in post 3 above is unworthy of anything purporting to be a serious discussion site. Remove it – or lose yet another reader in long trousers.

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  5. darth rumsfeld says:

    hey ciaran, in your trolling you forgot poor old Joe Hendron on the parades commission- or is he an “uncle Tom” in your wee world of stale recycled metaphors ?

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  6. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Ciaran,

    I don’t mind standing by grounded criticism of any public figure, but please, please leave the splenetic fury outside the door when you come into Slugger.

    There’s enough real material above to fuel fifteen arguments without you throwing in pointless distractions.

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  7. Alan says:

    This really is inexcusable. It reminds me of -

    “You are sitting at your desk granting licences
    on behalf of your Minister. Your enabling statutory powers are in the widest possible terms:
    ‘The Secretary of State may grant licences on
    such conditions as he thinks fit’. With power like
    that you might think that there could be no possible ground for legal challenge in the courts
    whatever you do. But you would be wrong.”

    See

    http://www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/pins/agency_info/judge_over_your_shoulder.pdf

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  8. To be clear, there is actually a huge difference between

    “The Secretary of State may grant licences on
    such conditions as he thinks fit” and

    “The Secretary of State may grant licenses on whatever conditions he likes”

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  9. OIlibhear Chromaill says:

    Mick, there’s nothing ‘unreal’ about the point made by Ciaran that less than open and fully accountable practices were in operation when the two Orangemen were appointed to the Parades Commission.
    And Darth Bumsfeld should know that while Joe Hendron is no Uncle Tom, it’s also fair to say that the Parades Commission’s membership was unfairly biased towards one section of the community.
    The thing that’s happening here is that Mr Hain and his fellow civil servants are fallling over each other to get Paisley and Co to say yes and that’s why we have the Victims Commissioner debacle, the Parades Commission scandal and the Orangefest Fiasco. Not to mention numerous othet grants where such trifles as objective need have been set aside as subservient to political expediency.

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  10. Ian says:

    I suppose the lesson to learnt here is that nationalists shouldn’t get too het up about apparently biased decisions by the NIO in favour of the DUP agenda, as they’re all ultimately challegeable in the Courts. And by the time Paisley realises that all his ‘confidence-building’ sweeteners have come to naught, he’ll be stuck in a power-sharing arrangement. He can hardly collapse the institutions on the basis of court judgements like the one today, can he?

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  11. Ian says:

    [my following on from previous message]

    In fact, the DUP should be taking comfort in the increasing confidence nationalists seem to be displaying in the British judicial system, as they bring forward judicial reviews such as this.

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  12. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    OC,

    I did Ciaran the service of removing his ‘splenetic fury’ (I probably should have marked it such). As ‘Typical’ quite correctly notes, such personalised contributions miss the substantive implications of the story itself and (regardless of his original intent) as only serve as a distraction.

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  13. NIRSucks says:

    Any chance of an inquiry into the incompetence and corruption of the entire Civil Service in N.I. while we’re at it?

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  14. rapunsel says:

    Listen. the Victims Commissioner is a well intentioned patsy for the DUP. At least following this debacle we can rest assured that she will only be the interim commissioner– the word is however that she is quite keen on the job and would have sought to become the commissioner in due course.

    An underlying issue here is that there is still a view held within government and the civil service that there is a hierarchy of victims — hence the appointment of a nominee of a party that believes very much in that hierarchy and of a victim who would herself be considered to be at the apex of that hierarchy. Mrs Mc Dougall is in an uncomfortable position and has been used whether willingly or otherwise by both Hain and the DUP. The only honourable position for her would be to resign

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  15. heck says:

    This suggests to me that as well as a problem with the police and courts in Nor Iron there is also a problem with the civil service. Somehow I have the impression that what is going on in the NI office is like an episode of Yes Minister with Hain as the clueless minister out of his depth. Maybe I am wrong but I get the impression that he is being manipulated by a sectarian civil service.

    Joint authority (plan B?) with a number of Irish civil servants sprinkled through out the NIO to prevent these sorts of shenanigans.

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  16. miss fitz says:

    Its certainly interesting, although arguably academic. Mrs McDougal’s tenure is coming to a natural end and I have no doubt that her report will be issued and considered on its merits.

    A little bird told me today that this might presage a call for the resignation of the SOS! I’m not too sure about that, as he is surely the most Teflon of teflon appliances we have ever had about the place.

    The calls from RFJ for the suspension of Nigel Hamilton were a bit silly perhaps, but interesting to observe as well.

    Mark Devenport made a good point on Radio Ulster earlier this evening when he pointed out that if this had happened in any other part of the UK, an outcry and resignation would have been the only outcome. As it is, we can just hope for a more equitable process when the permanent commissioner is appointed.

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  17. Fanny says:

    Let’s look at the silver lining. Go back, say, thirty years. Would a High Court judge in Belfast have ruled thus? I think we know the answer.

    Shows how far this place has travelled on the road to normality. Ian said much the same at 5.05pm.

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  18. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    miss fitz

    Mark Devenport is correct. Anywhere else – not just in the UK – and there would, indeed, be a hue and cry for Hain’s resignation.

    Breaching the Ministerial Code of Practice? Why should Blair not sack him, for example? Or why should the Conservative Party not call for his resignation?

    It will be interesting to see the general media reaction to this ruling.

    Unfortunately too many of our local political players, and a lot of the commenters on slugger and elsewhere it should be said, are too focussed on any party political advantage that might be gained from this, as is all too frequently the case, rather than the actual issue – abuse of office.

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  19. miss fitz says:

    Yes Pete and we end up with plus ca change. No eyebrows will be raised, nothing will be done and the end of term report will be accepted. The only thing that has possibly been affected is Bertha’s certain chance of becoming permanent Commissioner. I dont think she stands an even chance following this although her own performance came under no criticism by Girvan

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  20. mark says:

    I know from Bertha’s own mouth, she presented DUP type arguments on sectarian headcounts for funding distribution to the European Commission when asking for monetary support but didn’t present the more broadly supported alternative arguments based on meeting need or promoting reconciliation and truth.

    She is a very nice woman and talks very freely.

    I don’t see how a discredited political appointee nominated by the DUP who fronted their arguments to the neglect of others can present a credible basis for the future remit of the Commission in her forthcoming report.

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  21. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Indeed, miss fitz, only Hain and the NIO were judged to be the guilty parties.

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  22. Julian Robertson says:

    A good day for Hain. This following his sidekick Hanson denying what Labour agreed to in the House of Lords on rates concessions. What other grubby little St A side deals will unravel as this man’s duplicity catches up with him??? How can any of the parties believe any “deal” they think they may have struck with this fool.

    It’s all smoke and mirrors with this bunch of charlatans as they ride troughshod over the rules we must all obey and rule us by crude blackmail.

    The sooner he is out of here the better for us all quite frankly.

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  23. Nevin says:

    Are all of the appointments to such quangos now tarnished? Presumably political considerations featured in the formation of other commissions ….

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  24. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Are all of the appointments to such quangos now tarnished?

    Nevin

    At the risk of being obvious.. No. Only those appointments that are, for example, judged to be

    (b) being in breach of the accepted merit norms applicable to public appointments and in breach of the Ministerial Code of Practice in the circumstances the appointment, was in breach of the power of appointment under the Royal Prerogative;

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  25. ciaran damery says:

    Mick, you neutered my post (to some degree) by deleting the terms Klan and KKK when my post referred to Orange Thugs. You also deleted my reference to the police force as SS/RUC. Why? I frequently see posts referring to Oglaigh nahEireann as “terrorists”, “murdererous scum” etc.

    With respect, why is it wrong to equate Orange Order with the KKK? This analogy was not meant to be provocative, nor was I venting my spleen. Rather, I base the analogy on facts. I am not trolling, au contraire, I am merely voicing my opinion and am willing to substantiate my (deleted) terms in any debate, without emotional cat calling (as Unionists are wont to engage in) and without ‘playing the man/woman’, UNLESS that person decides to engage in the conflict/struggle or whatever.

    In any case I stand by my remarks and I think the whole selection process for Quango bodies like the IMC, Victims’ commisioner and parades comission are undemocratic, patently sectarian and outside the remit of the GFA. It’s disgustingly ironic that the brits make up the rules as they go along (or at the behest of their orange cheerleaders) whilst their lackies Ahern and McDowell refuse to release the IRA POWs in Castlerea prison, despite the fact that they qualify for early release and should have been freed in 2000.

    Finally, I can recall an incident not long ago, when exPOW Seán Kelly attended a conference in Belfast and the Unionist posters went ballistic. I didn’t hear much about playing the ball on that thread.

    By the way, can I say Tiocfaidh ár Lá? Or would that cause too much upset within the Orange (can’t say Klan) organization?

    Beannacht agus Beirfidh Bua!

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  26. ciaran damery says:

    I just cannot resist responding to FANNY who said, “Let’s look at the silver lining. Go back, say, thirty years. Would a High Court judge in Belfast have ruled thus? I think we know the answer.” In other words a ruling in favour of a nationalist would never happen 30 yrs ago, so we should thank our lucky stars that one judge disagreed with Hain on this topic. Gee thanks fanny! Us croppies don’t know how lucky we are to have some judge advise Hain to comply with civilized, impartial rules. I think all fenians should get up off one knee to thank our British Colonizers.

    Oh! Some poster asked if I thought Hendron was an Uncle Tom? All I can say in response is, does a dog eat meat?

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  27. Fanny says:

    With respect, Ciaran, I believe you were missing the point to some extent. You’re correct when you speak of “civilized, impartial rules”. But these are now being applied across the board, whether you wish to concede this or not. Thirty years ago it was not the case.

    You and I know that a transition to a normal society cannot happen overnight. It may take many more years to completely replace the corrupt sectarian state that was Northern Ireland since its founding. Progress is slow, too slow for many, but it does take this long to change mindsets constructed over many generations.

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  28. Rory says:

    I think that is in the best interests of all who contribute to or visit this site that we allow a degree of tolerance towards those views that may appear immature and perhaps a little bit strident to the eminence grise among us. After all we were all young once and were ruled by our passions and besides which the passionate voice of youth is a feature to be ignored at its peril in a volatile insecure society. Surely it is best that we educate them by the quiet reasonable response of our own response to their posts (as was admirably demonstrated by Fanny above in her response to Ciaran damery).

    Though I suspect that the administrators would utterly refute it, I have noticed a much greater tolerance of breaches of the ad hominem principle and utterance of abuse from unionist/loyalist posters than from nationalist/republican ones. I have learned to tolerate this apparent unfairness because I suspect it springs from the good motive of bringing unionists, who would formerly have rejected entering into discussion with “the enemy” into the forum and that tactic seems to be measured in the success of Slugger.

    I happen also to suspect, of course, that Hain’s foolishness in breaching the rules on appointments may have been in part motivated by a similar line of thinking. If that is the case then perhaps Hain is being spared censure for, however cack-handedly, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

    I do believe that the tolerance that Slugger extends to unionists (of all ages) who are perhaps immature in the public forum should be extended to the youth of whatever persuasion. I realise that my comments may only cause feelings of resentment at being patronised in the younger posters but that is certainly not the intention.

    I don’t think it is done anymore in the educational process to send pupils to stand in the corner with s dunce’s cap on their head and I would like to see it outlawed on Slugger as well.

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  29. Nevin says:

    Pete, have all of the other appointments to top posts been subjected to similar judicial scrutiny?

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  30. darth rumsfeld says:

    “Though I suspect that the administrators would utterly refute it, I have noticed a much greater tolerance of breaches of the ad hominem principle and utterance of abuse from unionist/loyalist posters than from nationalist/republican ones. I have learned to tolerate this apparent unfairness because I suspect it springs from the good motive of bringing unionists, who would formerly have rejected entering into discussion with “the enemy” into the forum and that tactic seems to be measured in the success of Slugger.”

    not fair IMO. I’m quite prepared to admit to any number of ad hominem attacks given and taken without complaint- this is the internet, not the Belfast Debating Society after all. I don’t have any problem debating with my opponents and I never reject debate, particularly since I usually triumph effortlessly.:0)That’s perspective for you- some people will not see my brilliance, just as some will think Barry McElduff is a serious politician (oops- I did it again)

    So far as abuse is concerned, there is an undeniable propensity on the part of many republican posters to castigate the Unionist people as opposed to the individual Unionist. Just look at ciaran damery’s litany of tired old abuses against my community on this thread.Perhaps they think that’s much more civilised, but of course it’s not. It might be more ad populum than ad hominem, but it’s still offensive,if you’re a sensitive soul.Personally I don’t mind it all, if it shows up the paucity of his argument. If I have a jab back at the individual, no doubt that will minimise the impact of my devastating counter-theses to some.
    I’m happy mick has adopted a tolerant approach because I’m keen to give him entertaining material for his long overdue doctorate “How I got them all talking to each other in cyberspace and saved the Peace Process” (£5.99 from Bargain Books in 2008).

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  31. Ciaran Damery says:

    Rory, as an OTR (never mentioned that before, but I can do so in safety) I am more than capable of engaging in discourse and entitled to post opinions, despite yer Bob McCartney-like condescending tone and absurd conjecture.

    Unfortunately I am not as young as you speculate in your vindictive, pompous post. A google search of me and the cop in Limerick may add some veracity to my scéal.

    What’s more I am a Corkonian who chose to engage in a struggle for almost 20 years of my life. I don’t look for kudos. Nor do I care about derision, jeez I give enough of it on this website.

    I submit this post cuz I know that people like you are a dime a dozen and I would bet my bar that I was actively involved in armed struggle when you were still in school, Ya see, your one of the know-alls, a Stoop with Union Jack knickers.

    Me? I could be bullshitting, but does it really matter if I am? I got nothing to gain. But I would be genuinely sad if other Volunteers the Movement took aim at me, because of my hostility to the appeasement of Unionists and ambivalence about the Irish Peace Process. But I rest easy with the knowledge that you are/were not one of those men and women. So far, my communication with republicans (of all persuasions) of my era has been positive and in most cases, agreement.

    Finally, one wonders why Mick does not apply the ‘play the man and not the ball’ rule to you?
    Is it because you patronize him and generally brown-nose him.

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  32. ciaran damery says:

    Point taken Fanny. I misinterpreted your post. But if a ruling goes against the occupier, in one case, are we not underestimating the progress to date as a result of the military pursuits of INLA and the pre-agreement IRA and of course the struggle within the political arena by SF. Fanny, we are almost there. Don’t underestimate the progress. Paisley is about to bite the bullet and enter a Home Rule government with Provisional Sinn Féin. Unionism is in tatters. The Brits want out. We beat them with guns and with intelect. A mere ruling by some judge is insignificant if one looks at the big picture. Fortunately, the Unionists did not have the intellectual foresight to see the big picture, so when they were throwing their urine at school girls, selling Orange Heroin in Ballymena and blowing trumpets in Belfast city hall everytime a SF councillor spoke, the Republican leadership was keeping their eye on the ball and creating a path that may well lead us to the grand prize without having to resort to war again.

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  33. Fanny says:

    Ciaran, I have no quarrel with you at all. I understand your anger and impatience. All I’m saying is that for some people change cannot come fast enough, long overdue as it is.

    However, there are a lot of people out there for whom that change is dangerously fast. I think we have to respect their feelings too, even if that rankles. Like I say, it took many generations to embed all the hatred and mistrust we see about us, and it’s sure to take several generations more before we see it gone for ever.

    That said, you may well be correct and we could be witnessing change in rapid tempo. That suits me just fine.

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  34. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    “A mere ruling by some judge is insignificant if one looks at the big picture.”

    ciaran

    I’ll look past the ad hominem approach you use in your comments to address this particular point.

    The ruling is actually much more significant than you give it credit.. and it’s a ruling that should be looked at in much more detail than you seem inclined to do.

    Not only becuase of what it says about the current administration, but for how it will affect any future administration – that’s assuming that you have an investment in how any future administration will operate.

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  35. [email protected] says:

    WHY CAN I ONLY POST ON THIS THREAD? AM I BEING PENALIZED FOR TELLING IT AS IT IS? ARE YOU BEING PARTIAL? MY PERSPECTIVE IS DIFFERENT FROM MOST, I AM IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE RULES. INCIDENTALLY I DO CONSIDER THE WBSITE IMPARTIAL AND OPEN TO DEBATE. FAIR DUES TO YE/YOU. BUT I CANNOT POST ON OTHER THREADS. ARE REPUBLICANS WHO QUESTION THE ONGOING APPEASEMENT OF UNIONISTS – WHO RETAIN THE RIGHT TO VETO THE WISHES OF ABOUT 85% OF THE POPULATION OF OUTCASTS? OR DO YOU JUST WANT TO CONTROL AND DIRECT THE COURSE OF THREADS AT YOUR WHIM?

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  36. fair_deal says:

    How come the NIO can fix the NIHRC appointments (and even overlook one nominee making a very dodgy declaration of their political activity) but were incapable of repeating it for the Victim’s Commissioner and Parades Commission?

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  37. PaulW says:

    Mrs Downes sounds a nasty piece of work judging by the BBC quote. Talk about hierarchy of victims.

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  38. Fanny says:

    “Mrs Downes sounds a nasty piece of work judging by the BBC quote. Talk about hierarchy of victims.”

    Can you explain this charge? I don’t understand it.

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  39. Rory says:

    Ciaran Damery,

    Clearly I read you all wrong. My apologies. I had no idea you were a grizzled, war scarred veteran of the struggle for freedom. Unfortunately because of the silly rule about limiting the raising of monuments to dead heroes only I had no obvious markers to make me aware.

    Your comparison of me to “yer man Bob McCartney” was most astute and I am sure that, with talent like yours, there must be a future for you – somewhere.

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  40. abucs says:

    Incompetant ministers are almost exclusively made to resign by the howl of the media, usually precipitated by the howls of the opposition who think there is electoral mileage in running with it.

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  41. The World's Gone Mad says:

    ‘I had no idea you were a grizzled, war scarred veteran of the struggle for freedom.’

    Yes, a United Ireland was bought so much closer by robbing a post office in Limerick and killing a policeman….

    He must be so proud (either that or a complete delusional fantasist).

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  42. Billy says:

    As far as I understand it, there has been no criticism of the lady herself.

    The issue is with the PROCESS of her appointment.

    Many Unionists are very fond of critising Nuala O’Loan’s appointment. However, this was done via a transparent, legal process in accordance with current legislation. It was open to legal challenge at any point.

    The appointment of the two Orangemen to the Parades commission and of Mrs McDougall were not.

    Hain and the NIO blatently disregarded all the rules. There was no attempt to follow a transparent, legal procedure – these people were simply chosen as a blatent sop to the DUP. Now, quite rightly, they have been found out.

    The NIO officials involved should certainly be suspended and someone should lose their job.

    Due to the realities of life in NI, it is not realistic to have members of the OO or resident’s groups on the parades commission. It is equally untenable to have someone as victim’s commissioner who has lost a close relative to any of the terrorist groups here.

    I’m aware that the two OO members are no longer on the parades commission.

    I’m not saying that Mrs McDougall has not done a good job – she may well have done.
    However, I believe that her position is untenable.

    All appointments of this nature MUST be transparent, comply with legal requirements and be open to challenge at an early stage.

    That way, politicians would be unable to put people in these positions as “bribes” and a lot of time and paxpayers money would be saved.

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