Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Mixing politics and judicial process is a dangerous mix…

Tue 6 November 2012, 8:13pm

Well, I don’t what to add. People are getting carted off to jail for all sorts of things they did (or allegedly did) in the past. The case of Padraig Wilson seems to have particularly set the cat amongst the pigeons.

And Gerry Kelly is channeling anger from Republicans:

“I can tell you frankly that many, many people have been in touch, from other colleagues, very angry about the idea that someone who was crucial to bringing people along in the peace process and political process is now behind bars where he should not be.”

The problem is there are judicial processes that have to be adhered to, no matter who people are, or what debt we may or may not owe them. Gerry’s arguing they should be bypassed for political reasons.

Which is a bit more than just a bit of a problem. I understand the impulse to want to tame a given problem and make it work for you or your political party. It’s what politicians do the world over.

But there are limits, particularly when the interests of a political party come into conflict with the requirements of justice.

There’s been a lot of focus on historic cases in which the state has over reached its powers. Some relatives have spent half a lifetime trying to force the truth out of a state reluctant to give up its darker secrets.

But it should not be forgotten that the state now is in part run by the representatives of many of those who lost their loved ones to past state actions.

That is, to say the least, an awkward place to be standing.

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Comments (30)

  1. Ruarai (profile) says:

    “The problem is there are judicial processes that have to be adhered to, no matter who people are, or what debt we may or may not owe them. Gerry’s arguing they should be bypassed for political reasons.”

    Let’s take the blinkers off here – we’re talking Northern Ireland. Of course judicial processes should be adhered to but policing and the judiciary in NI has always been, er, susceptible, to a political agenda and always will be.

    (If we really did have a judiciary that was going to operate “no matter who people are” or irrespective of what they are “owed”, as you say Mick, then there ought to be a host of FRU types in the dock and in cells, no?)

    Yet there are none. So the question is, what’s the current agenda and who’s pushing it – and just how far are they willing to push?

    The Provisionals sold the deal, and specifically the policing part of it, not based on depoliticized policing and an independent judiciary but based on the assumption of a new political agenda and one where they’d be central to calling the shots.

    They traded opposition to policing – opposition being a euphemistic way of putting it – for support for a force they figured they’d effectively be running and, at the least, calling to account. The idea that that same force could now be coming after them calls the whole basis of their analysis into question.

    If the British state’s primary objective in Ireland is checking the capacity and appeal of militant Republicanism, why would they destabilize the position of Sinn Fein (by arresting Wilson)?

    Perhaps there are tensions within the state – if so, expect the political agenda to prevail, i.e. Wilson won’t be inside for long.

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  2. tacapall (profile) says:

    “The problem is there are judicial processes that have to be adhered to, no matter who people are, or what debt we may or may not owe them”

    No-one owes these people anything Mick other than showing that in a normal society no-one is above the law, including members of the government and Police officers. I can fully understand Gerry Kelly when he says people are very angry, yes there is many many people angry at this one sided cherry picking of past misdeeds. How can nationalists or indeed any rational minded person turn a blind eye or say nothing about the blatantly obvious reluctance by the PSNI or the Government to bring those police officers to justice who colluded in murder.

    I owe those Police Officers nothing, our debt is to their victims, no different than Unionism owes nothing to Sinn Fein or the IRA

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  3. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “So the question is, what’s the current agenda and who’s pushing it – and just how far are they willing to push?”

    In this case the relatives of a PIRA murder victim. They have brought forward evidence of criminality and have insisted that it be acted upon. I would suggest that they will push it as far as they possibly can. They have already been driven out of their community by the Provos and their supporters, so it is hard to see what they have to lose.

    If a political agenda does prevail then we are talking about very serious corruption at a senior political level. This is a fine litmus test for the Sinners.

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  4. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “those police officers to justice who colluded in murder.”

    Rumour and innuendo do not count as evidence. Remember?

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  5. Ciarán (profile) says:

    Mick You failed to mention that one of the main objections to remanding Padraig Wilson is the fact that the burden of proof has seemingly been lowered.

    Peter Madden, representing Wilson said:
    “It is a rare situation when somebody is actually charged with membership of the IRA by a witness or witnesses who say he was a member. I have never come across that before.”

    If you’re going to worry about judicial process then you should also worry about the law being applied equally.

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  6. tacapall (profile) says:

    Evidence of giving terrorists weapons that were later used in multiple murders, The Prime Minister David Cameron admitting state collusion in murder and apoligising for it is innuendo and rumour to you !

    Your salivating at the prospect of a shinner going to prison on the words of the McCartney sisters yet your offended at the prospect of Police officers going to prison on the word of the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I can see where your coming from about David Cameron but your moral judgement on justice and victims is kinda biased.

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  7. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “the burden of proof has seemingly been lowered.”

    Have you heard the evidence which was presented?

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  8. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    tapacall,

    You (or your Scottish alter ego) have insisted in the past that people are not guilty until proven so by a court of law. You have stated that anything said about those people before hand is mere rumour and innuendo. Those are the standards which you apply to Sinners who had lengthy terrorist careers. All I ask of you is consistency.

    I am salivating over nothing. I am merely pointing out that if the ladies in question have produced evidence of criminality then it must be investigated, and if said evidence is sufficiently damning then the Provo terrorist in question must face the courts. That is exactly what is happening. There can be no political interference in that process

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  9. Nevin (profile) says:

    “why would they destabilize the position of Sinn Fein (by arresting Wilson)?”

    A very interesting question, Ruarai. Alongside it you might put, “Why are SF and the SDLP running after the ‘micro-groups’, groups that not so long ago SF leaders besmirched?” Could the two questions be interlinked? Has the strong central control of the Provisional Republican Movement began to unravel?

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  10. tacapall (profile) says:

    “I am merely pointing out that if the ladies in question have produced evidence of criminality then it must be investigated”

    So are the words of Mr McIlwrath and his CID colleague Johnston Brown not similar to the same evidence the ladies in question are providing as evidence ?

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  11. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Ciaran,

    Thanks for that.

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  12. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “So are the words of Mr McIlwrath and his CID colleague Johnston Brown not similar to the same evidence the ladies in question are providing as evidence ?”

    What words are you referring to? When I ask that question I am not inviting you to post your usual collection of irrelevant crap, but rather to produce quotes from those two gentlemen which would lead to a credible prosecution.

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  13. tacapall (profile) says:

    “Former RUC detective Trevor McIlwrath was central in exposing the two biggest collusion cases in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years.

    In October 1991 the former detective listened to loyalist Ken Barrett as he confessed to the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

    However, Mr McIlwrath and his CID colleague Johnston Brown were blocked by Special Branch from charging Barrett with the murder.

    Two years later the two detectives found themselves in similar circumstances when UVF killer Mark Haddock confessed to the murder of Catholic woman Sharon McKenna.

    Again Special Branch blocked Mr Brown and Mr McIlwrath from charging Haddock with murder.

    Over the next 14 years Special Branch protected Haddock from prosecution, despite involvement in more than a dozen murders.”

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  14. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    Both Barrett and Haddock have been charged and jailed. You were supposed to be providing evidence of words by the two gentlemen in question which could have led to the credible prosecution of police officers. Where are they?

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  15. son of sam (profile) says:

    What about the doctrine of the separation of powers?Should Sinn Fein have the final say on who gets charged or not?Are they not arguing in favour of what they accused successive Unionist regimes of implementing ,namely”political policing”?Mr Wilson is now released on bail and no doubt the P P S headed by Barra Mc Grory will make an objective assessment on the sufficiency of evidence against him in due course.As David Cameron might say,”calm down dears”!!

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  16. tacapall (profile) says:

    “evidence of words by the two gentlemen in question which could have led to the credible prosecution of police officers”

    “Blocked by Special Branch from charging Barrett with the murder.”

    “Special Branch blocked Mr Brown and Mr McIlwrath from charging Haddock with murder.”

    “Special Branch protected Haddock from prosecution, despite involvement in more than a dozen murders.”

    Like I said. Your moral judgement on justice and victims is kinda biased.

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  17. Submariner (profile) says:

    Tapcall dont feed the troll. Covenanter is the banned poster Lodger

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  18. Submariner (profile) says:

    Sorry Tacapall dam phone

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  19. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “Are they not arguing in favour of what they accused successive Unionist regimes of implementing ,namely”political policing”?”

    SOS,

    That is exactly what they are trying to do. Imagine the outcry if someone escaped being prosecuted because he was a member of the Masonic Order, or suchlike. Yet the Sinners are claiming that members of the Provos old boys club are above the law simply because they have recently stopped murdering people. It also leaves open the dark hint that they must be free from prosecution otherwise they might just go back to their evil old ways. That is an impossible position to maintain whilst remaining in government.

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  20. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    tapacall,

    You claimed that Johnson and Mcilwrath had said words which should lead to police officers being prosecuted. I asked you what those words were, and I requested that you post the words rather than your usual list of accusations. Unsurprisingly no such words were forthcoming.

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  21. tacapall (profile) says:

    John Weir’s Affadavit

    3rd January 1999

    I am a former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) which I joined in 1970 and served until 1980. After initial training in Enniskillen Training Depot, I began my police career in Strandtown RUC Station in East Belfast.

    I left the RUC in 1980 following my conviction for the murder of William Strathearn at Ahoghill, Co.[County] Antrim, which occurred in April 1977. I will deal with this incident later in this statement. (See paragraphs 33-38)

    I was friendly at that time with RUC Constable Billy McBride and I visited his home on one occasion at a time when Chief Inspector Harry Breen was present. We discussed McBride’s connection to a group of Loyalists in Co. Down called Down Orange Welfare, which was headed by a retired Army officer, Lt. Col. Edward Brush. McBride told us he was a member of this group, which was almost entirely composed of members or ex-members of the security forces. He produced a .38 revolver from a drawer in his living room and after I had examined it he replaced it in the drawer. He then went into another room and brought out two home made sub-machine guns, copies of the Sterling machine-gun. He explained that Down Orange Welfare was manufacturing Sterling sub-machine guns and that the two he had shown me were the prototypes and were of imperfect design. McBride added that the group were in the process of making an M1 carbine, an American rifle, and that the only remaining problem to be tackled was the ejector mechanism for spent bullets. He anticipated that this would not present any insuperable difficulty. In Chief Inspector Breen’s presence he then offered me the two sub-machine guns because he knew about my connections to Loyalist paramilitaries. I accepted them and took them to Mitchell’s farmhouse.

    21. Constable McBride was a gunsmith and, following this initial meeting with him, guns changed hands on several occasions. On one occasion, after McBride had told me that he had received four new sub-machine guns from Down Orange Welfare, I contacted Armstrong who soon arrived with McClure at Newry RUC station. Armstrong had a conversation with Chief Inspector Breen, whom he knew well, and the three of us went to McBride’s house where we collected the guns. These sub-machine guns were transported to Mitchell’s farmhouse where I later test fired them in a hayshed. They worked perfectly. Mitchell subsequently sold these weapons to Jackie Whitten, a UVF paramilitary leader in Portadown for 100 pounds each. I then gave the 400 pounds to McBride so that the money could be used for the manufacture of further weapons. In summary, Down Orange Welfare was using RUC officers in Newry RUC station – McBride, Breen, myself – and another RUC officer, Sergeant Monty Alexander from Forkhill RUC station – to supply weapons to the UVF in Portadown. I later learned that these weapons were being manufactured by Samuel McCoubrey in Spa, Co. Down.”

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  22. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    tapacall,

    That is very interesting. Unfortunately John Weir is not also known as either Johnson or McIlwrath and his word is deeply suspect on account of him being an embittered convicted criminal.

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  23. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    Ciaran

    “Peter Madden, representing Wilson said:
    “It is a rare situation when somebody is actually charged with membership of the IRA by a witness or witnesses who say he was a member. I have never come across that before.”

    Yet according to witness in six statements from more than one source they allege he:

    “claimed to be a member of the IRA’s army council carrying out an internal investigation”.

    “Police have received six statements from the McCartney sisters and Ms Hagans”.

    “A prosecution barrister disclosed: “During his detention a Viper identification process was conducted and four of the six witnesses identified him as the person who had addressed the meeting.”

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/republican-bailed-over-ira-s-mccartney-investigation-1204402

    This begs the question and it has been admitted by Gerry Kelly that Wilson was carrying out an internal investigation into the IRA/Sinn Fein murder of their brother Robert McCartney.

    Would IRA/Sinn Fein let a non IRA/Sinn Fein member carry out an internal investigation into the IRA/Sinn Fein murder. And

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  24. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    Is this the same case that was forced into the open by the BBC and included Patrick Finucane’s brother?

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  25. tacapall (profile) says:

    “and his word is deeply suspect on account of him being an embittered convicted criminal.”

    Like I said your moral judgement can be seen for what it is.

    “Covenanter (profile)
    3 October 2012 at 9:09 pm

    “Even if Ms.Price is reported on the tape as saying “Gerry Adams, as my C.O., ordered me to murder (well, she’d say execute, wouldn’t she?) Jean McConville, there will not be a trial. She would have to say that at a trial and she won’t. Because there’s another reason why there won’t be a trial. Whoever did order the trial is a protected creature. I’m sure you’ve heard of secret protocols.”

    Mr Joe,

    Following the Omagh precedent there must surely be a very strong possibility of a civil action. That is what will be keeping the former OC of Ballymurphy PIRA awake at night.”

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  26. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    I think that anyone can see a distinct difference between my moral judgement and yours. Only one of us is tryng (pathetically) to deflect attention away rom the organisation which carried out the vast bulk of the murders on this island in the past forty years, and it ain’t me.

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  27. tacapall (profile) says:

    Covenanter. No-one is above the law in my eyes, the same cant be said by you my friend.

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  28. Covenanter (profile) black spot says:

    “No-one is above the law in my eyes, the same cant be said by you my friend.”

    Nonsense on all three points. In your eyes a Provo can only be prosecuted if the same thing is done to former policemen. That is a nonsense. It is also very telling that you appear to have absolutely no problem with the fact that some of the leading politicians from the party you support are mass murderers. When people point this out you demand absolute proof whilst at the same time spamming the board with accusations about unnamed police officers. You demand that they must be prosecuted regardless of any of the absolute proof that you require for the Sinners.

    That is inconsistency and hypocrisy.

    I do believe that no one is above the law. I do not demand any kind of idiotic “checks and balances”, but merely request that where sufficient evidence exists a prosecution should take place. In other words I support the rule of law.

    Nor am I your friend. I know noting about you other than that you support the politicians who were directly behind the bulk of the violence that was visited upon these islands. Your claim to be a pacifist does not sit easily with your politics.

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  29. son of sam (profile) says:

    Jim Gibney’s column in today’s Irish News exhibits more of the hysteria and paranoia being whipped up over the charging of Mr Wilson.All the usual suspects are trotted out –”a cabal within the P S N I” and the perennial “securocrats”! Moreover,there is the bald assertion that “the conviction in the case of Mc Conville&Wotton is unsafe”.It would be interesting to hear from Mr Gibney on what grounds this belief is based.On the one hand,we have the D F M condemning the dissidents and all their works while Gibney (to the best of my knowledge not a lawyer) seeks to cast doubt on the safeness of the conviction of 2dissidents.

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  30. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    “I think that Sinn Fein have a problem in their credibility in attacking the activities of the Real IRA and the fundamental problem is, we saw it again this week, when I was travelling up to the funeral of prison officer David Black,” Mr Martin said.

    “I listened with incredulity really at the campaign Sinn Fein launched outside PSNI headquarters against the arrest of Padraic Wilson in relation to the murder of Robert McCartney.

    “This is at the very same time that the PSNI are looking for people to co-operate with them in terms of finding the killers of David Black.

    “So how can you on one hand condemn that activity, ask people to co-operate with the PSNI when on the very same day you are campaigning outside PSNI headquarters.”

    Mr Martin said in the Republic of Ireland, it would be extraordinary for a leading member of a political party to protest against its own police force.

    “You cannot, if you are in government, undermine your own police force,” he said.

    Sinn Fein has not yet responded to the comments”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20263586

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