Rationale for the #ShinnersList: “Preferential treatment of IRA men regarding their potential criminal liability…”

3 views

On Facebook yesterday, I saw a query from an old schoolfriend (from P1, as it happens). He’s about as apolitical it is possible to be, but his curiosity was clearly piqued and he asked a question about how on earth the NIO managed to get all those letters out to the OTRs.

The answer as we now know was via Sinn Fein.

We’ll have to await the outcome of the Review to see just how rigorous the processes were. But in effect the UK Government outsourced the assembly of that list, the delivery of the offer, the collation of acceptances and finally the delivery of the [bulletproof? - Ed] letters.

Anyway. I’ve just had this from the SDLP press office. I think it adequately expands on that thought. It’s a chunk of Alban Maguinness’s contribution to the debate this afternoon:

“One of the most important principles in modern government is transparency, and that is a very good guiding principle, particularly for a divided and fearful society such as ours. In relation to on-the-runs, no transparency was shown whatsoever by either the British Government or, indeed, Sinn Féin.

“We have talked a lot about collusion in this House, and rightly so. Here was an act of monumental collusion between the British Government and Sinn Féin. Their secret postal service was a specially devised system to, as it were, bring relief to their IRA members. It was not done for the good of the peace. It was not done for the peace process. It was done for the selfish individual interests of Sinn Féin.

“That is the reality of the situation. It was a clandestine process. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Indeed, ‘The Irish News’ yesterday referred to it as being the next best thing to an effective amnesty. Where was there concern shown for the victims of the Troubles in all of that by either the British Government or Sinn Féin? Let us remind ourselves that Peter Hain introduced a Bill, the Hain Bill, to deal with the on-the-runs. That Bill was designed to undermine the rule of law, because, effectively, if you had been found guilty, you were immediately released.

“Mr Kelly is a very deficient historian, it seems to me. Hain introduced his Bill, which was thrown out because of extensive opposition from the SDLP and others. The fact is that that Bill was regarded by most people as a monstrosity. Despite the fact that public opinion and political opinion was against the Bill, the British Government reverted to the administrative scheme that had been in place for some time on an ad hoc basis. They put it on a systematic basis and institutionalised it. That is the problem, as I see it. That is represented by Operation Rapid, which was introduced in February 2007.

“The preferential treatment of IRA men regarding their potential criminal liability was and is appalling. It is totally insulting to reasonable, law-abiding people who play by the rules of society. How can it be acceptable to make an exception for those people involved in such serious activities? The days of side deals, shabby deals and secret deals should be well and truly over.

, , , , , ,

  • Granni Trixie

    My understanding was that the Bill,in effect, would mean that someone found guilty would do the 2 years as applied at the time of GFA or that in lesser cases do no time but have their misdeeds on record which is different than just walking away equipped to argue they are “innocent”. Unpalatable as it may be this would apply to police and army personnel found guilty. ( and correct me if my understandings are incorrect).

    This system is something I could live with as it is no different than what we voted for in GFA. Its also consistent with ex prisoners getting a new start.

    Has AMCG any evidence for claiming that “the public” were all against the Bill?

    Can anyone clarify?

  • sherdy

    I thought Albann would have had more wit than to refer to ‘regarding their potential criminal liability’. Had the police considered they had this potential liability they would have had a legal interest in these people and would not have given the okay for the letters of comfort to be issued.

    He mentions the secrecy of the deal: Albann, even the PUP were fully aware of the deal, but with their UVF friends having such good relations with Special Branch, they did not consider they needed a Chamberlain type piece of paper to wave about.

    Drew Harris gave a briefing to the PB in ’10 with Alex Attwood in attendance. Did he not report this information to the party leadership, or had he been having a doze that day?

    And Albann, with your historical knowledge of the British in Ireland, can you really be surprised that Perfidious Albion is still alive and working in the shadows?

    What about the DUP secret deal that they would accept the OTR deal if Blair would write a letter of comfort to Ian Paisley promising to blame Trimble? That sleazy little deal was apparently done between Jonathan Powell and Nigel Dodds and, surprise, Peter Robinson.

    Your sensibilities don’t seem to be offended by that secret deal – any reason?

  • Mick Fealty

    Granni,

    The ‘public’ even in normal democratic terms is a fragile term. I think it went like this (though given the ambiguity involved, naturally this is open to multiple confutations):

    - SDLP take the view the proposed bill amounts to a denial of victims rights, not least (though not exclusively) against British state forces.

    - SF decide that the publicity on their quid pro quo stance with British forces is not sustainable, so they withdraw their support.

    - Lastly, the DUP, with no prospective OFMdFM partner anteing up, pulls out of what has become a dead letter arrangement.

  • socaire

    Some of you may remember WW2. That was when the USA whipped the Nazis. What happened to the high ranking scientists (heavy water, Pennemunde), to the brilliant doctors and surgeons (fry one twin,freeze the other)? Why, they were given ‘get out of jail cards’ and spirited away to continue their work in the USA. Likewise Army,Police and civil servants. Wouldn’t the whited sepulchres and political hyenas from these parts have had a field day? This OTR arrangement was between two parties who both regarded themselves as sovereign governments and had nothing to do with the jumped up county councillors in Stormont.

  • Granni Trixie

    Mick

    Yes, I can readily see that such a Bill would be repugnant to many victims/survivors and it is to me but I return to the point that this battle was won and lost in GFA where people voted for the unthinkable namely a token 2 years in jail and out you go (Shankill bomber et al ).
    A Bill to deal with the OTRs, I contend, is consistent with GFA and letting prisoners out of jail after 2 years. Trouble is for self interest some parties just will not agree to it and I would challenge them therefore to come up with a creative solution.

  • Charles_Gould

    Alban makes a good speech in general, and a very well put point when he says:

    “We have talked a lot about collusion in this House, and rightly so. Here was an act of monumental collusion between the British Government and Sinn Féin. Their secret postal service was a specially devised system to, as it were, bring relief to their IRA members. It was not done for the good of the peace. It was not done for the peace process. It was done for the selfish individual interests of Sinn Féin.”

    So much for that equality you preach of, Mr Adams.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sherdy

    There is overwhelming evidence that this system for dealing with OTRs was not infact widely known especially as those involved have admitted this was a deliberate tactic – a secret that dare not speak its name to avoid all hell would break loose.

    Is this what civil rights campaigned for? All that complaining about show trials, Diplock courts etc? To set up a DIY system in which all the rules of natural justice are ditched?

  • son of sam

    “The O T R arrangement was between two parties who both regarded themselves as sovereign governments” Even by Socaires often bizarre contributions, this claim seems somewhat deluded.Perhaps he would care to explain how Sinn Fein could regard themselves as a ” sovereign government ” ?

  • Barnshee

    Some of you may remember WW2. That was when the USA whipped the Nazis. What happened to the high ranking scientists (heavy water, Pennemunde), to the brilliant doctors and surgeons (fry one twin,freeze the other)?

    I prefer the Israeli approach hound the guilty of what hue relentlessly

  • tomthumbuk

    The Belfast Telegraph has published a list of people who it believes, received the letters.
    If it is true, then it is clear that there was an amnesty, as there seems to be clear evidence to enable the cases to be brought to court.
    (Examples being, breaking out of gaol).
    I think the legal term is “it’s a no brainer!”

  • streetlegal

    Securing the letters of comfort were so important to the Provisional Sinn Fein leadership, because those letters are, in all but name, an amnesty for Provisional IRA members who were previously wanted for questioning in relation to Provisional IRA operations. The ‘amnesty’ effectively means that any information held on file against these named individuals, by police forces or British Intelligence, would no longer be used against them. That was the deal that Gerry Adams secured on behalf of the Provisional IRA from Tony Blair.

  • socaire

    It is a well documented fact that the Republican movement considers itself to be the rightful heir of the 1st/2nd Dáil and consequently the legitimate government of all Ireland. All Republicans – of whatever hue – believe this, as all Christians believe that they and they alone are the one true church. Bizarre it may be! This arrangement was between the IRA and the British government. Sinn Féin was merely a conduit. I was just trying to explain why the local councillors had no input. And Barnshee, your attitude is commendable – as long as you are an Israeli.