#ShinnersList is “a consequence of Sinn Fein’s selfish misdealing…”

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Interesting response to the Hain interview this morning from Mark Durkan…

“It is no surprise that Peter Hain has now articulated this view. That was clearly his position. Sinn Fein, who have been quoting him in aid this week, know that this was Peter Hain’s view when they were collaborating together to push forward the NI (Offences) Bill in 2005 (which was misnomered as the On The Runs bill).

“In the context of the Hain-Adams Bill, which Peter Hain was forced to withdraw after Sinn Fein had been forced to withdraw their support, Peter Hain used words like illogical, indefensible and unconscionable to justify indemnity for members of the security forces as a corollary for any such assurance to republicans.

“We also know from the time of the Hain/Adams Bill that when Sinn Fein had to eventually admit that its scope did include the Bloody Sunday paratroopers, Martin McGuinness dismissed that as an issue when, interviewed on Hearts and Minds, he said that he did “not envisage that any people who were involved in the murders of nationalists … is ever going to be brought before a court in this day and age.”

“Those who have stood over the scheme revealed in the High Court case have claimed that it doesn’t imply an amnesty, and that everybody really knew everything about it.

“Yet now, one of its authors is saying that the fact of the scheme should mean amnesty for everybody and anybody in relation to anything. We will also have others, including Tories and unionists rallying around such a demand.

“Sinn Fein know if others had really known about the ‘Shinners’ List’ and letters having such import on a court case those others would have then been demanding indemnity for the security forces too. That presumably was one of the reasons for key aspects of the scheme being hidden.

“I know that many families may be anxious and aggrieved by the inevitable and predictable line that has now come from Peter Hain, and will be pushed by others, but this is a consequence of Sinn Fein’s selfish misdealing, which we will have to work hard to resist – firstly by reminding people both the Eames-Bradley report and the Haass drafts ruled out amnesty as a basis for dealing with the Past.”

If you want to get across the detail, this briefing from the party published at the time is about the most authoritative commentary on the detail of the NI (Offences) Bill, 2005.

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  • IanR

    Exactly what I was wondering Morph. I wonder what other administrative tasks he is going to look into.

    If, for example, Ford hasn’t [i]explicitly[/i] signed off on the stocking up of loo rolls to the toilets in PSNI HQ, does that mean the continued supply of Andrex (other brands are available!) since the devolution of justice was done without legal authority?

  • IanR

    (Sorry, that was a bit faecesious!)

  • Son of Strongbow

    The Shinners tell us that a “number” of recipients received a ‘letter of discomfort’ (in other words they were wanted by the police based on the existence of a prima facia case against them). The number thirty has been mentioned.

    The Sinn Fein postal service (The Rogue Mail?) handled these missives.

    Has the ‘law and order supporting’ party assisted the police in locating these wanted people?

    Having reviewed the cases (Operation Rapid) where are the extradition cases pending to seek these 30 wanted individuals?

    (Judas got 30 pieces of silver; Sinn Fein got 30 amnesties?)

    Downey was wanted by the Met, why was his extradition not sought (such had nothing to do with the PSNI) before he was rumbled by a standard check at Heathrow?

  • looneygas

    What Mick was saying(I think) is that although the OTR letters are not amnesties or GOOJFree cards, it does seem that a lot of people got comfort letters, who might just as easily got discomfort letters if the British decided to be a little more earnest in their investigating and prosecuting.
    What I wonder about is why they are so lax.

    A)Best to let sleeping dogs lie, peace process, blah blah…

    B)If they prosecute old IRA crimes, they have to prosecute old security force crimes like Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy.

    C)There’s a lot more dirty secrets on their side of things and the heat they take for not prosecuting IRA guys is less than the heat they’d take if these dirty secrets came out. And/or the guys prosecuted for Bloody Sunday, etc. might decide to spill their guts with a lot of unpleasant revelations.

  • Mick Fealty

    Morph,

    “Why do SF need any leverage to make the British Government do the right thing…”

    Because it is what they have been promising to do: a grand reckoning on the past where the state’s dirty war secrets will be exposed.

    Turns out the state already has their back on their own secrets, so they won’t be pulling off any grand feats in that regard.

    There is however a job of work to be done in addressing the needs of victims that’s based on realistic expectations.

    That spake from Jude White the other night on Nolan tells you all you need to know about how this process (which it turns out never was a victims process) has been badly oversold.

  • Morpheus

    That’s way, way WAY out there Looneygas. For that to be true countless police officers would need to be in on some sort of UK-wide conspiracy at the highest level of multiple police forces. It just doesn’t hold any water especially here in Northern Ireland where we have a policing board with representatives from our political parties plus civilians who make sure the PSNI are accountable and transparent. The days of the police doing what they want with no questions asked are thankfully long gone.

  • Mick Fealty

    Looneygas,

    C is just B overstated. But I would gingerly vote for both (on the basis that the damage on the SF side has the potential to knock out the entire leadership, whereas the Brits would just be throwing old soldiers, and maybe some dead politicians under the proverbial bus).

    Meanwhile, I ask again, is the dFM helping the PSNI with their Bloody Sunday enquiries? I would doubt it very much. Butter and bread.

  • looneygas

    I’m not talking about a grand X-files conspiracy, just that The Westminister government might rather not have their dirty Northern Irish laundry aired in court and in the press, any more than SF would, as Mick said.
    SF’s reason for not wanting prosecutions is obvious.
    To explain why the British government doesn’t want to prosecute old IRA crimes MAY require more explanation than furthering the peace process.
    I know that it may be a stretch to suggest that SF has some file(s) that would tarnish British respectability. I thought it was within the realm of possibility.

  • looneygas

    Meanwhile, I ask again, is the dFM helping the PSNI with their Bloody Sunday enquiries? I would doubt it very much. Butter and bread.

    Mexican standoff?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yep, but after all the dark chat, it’s little bit embarrassing…

  • looneygas

    Maybe “getting” SF is just less important to those in power(and not in power) in Great Britain than to those in Northern Ireland.

  • Seamuscamp

    There are a lot of half-truths, misdirections, lies, misunderstandings, prestidigitations etc associated with any political statement from anyone directly or indirectly involved in NI politics; sometimes admixed with truth as they see it. Just when I think I’ve spotted the truth, it slips away like a guddled fish. So can someone confirm:

    A number of men thought they might to be prosecuted if they return to the UK.
    The police have sufficient evidence to prosecute some of these men and have informed them that they will be taken to court if the opportunity arises.
    Some other men who are suspected to have been involved in illegality have been told by letter that the police are not currently looking to prosecute them (presumably because there is insufficient evidence).
    This fact was published by Eames-Bradley, amongst others.
    One of the men informed that he will not be taken to court was informed wrongly that the police were not seeking him.
    All those involved are, in law, innocent.

    So what is the controversy?

  • looneygas

    If there was evidence against Downey, why was he not extradited?
    If there are 40 or so others told to stay out of the UK if they wish to avoid prosecution, why are they not extradited?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Doh!

    Downey was charged and brought to court. There is evidence against him. That evidence was not tested in court. The existence of the ‘letter’ stayed the trial.

    The PSNI was required, we are told, to assess evidence against a number of individuals and produce a ‘statement of fact’ [sic] relating to each one.

    This evidential review (case reviews are a common police procedure for outstanding investigations so the task was easily within the cops’ skills) produced a number of cases where the individuals were considered to have a case to answer.

    ( best perhaps not to speculate why these cases were not reviewed prior to the NIO/Sinn Fein process began)

    Save for informing these suspects that they were sought by the police no further action seems to have been taken.

    Pourquoi?

  • Neil

    As an expert on the topic would you say it were humanly possible for an investigation to be active, but for the evidence available not to be sufficient to mount a trial and hence therefore, not sufficient to intiate extradition?

  • looneygas

    Dohhh!!!

    Downey was charged and brought to court after he entered the UK.
    Why did they wait for him to enter the UK? Are 4 counts of murder not considered serious offences?
    Or is there some other factor in play?
    It doesn’t seem that there was insufficient evidence to mount a trial in Downey’s case, or as Neil said, they wouldn’t bother charging him.

  • Morpheus

    SoS, it was not – repeat NOT – the existence of the letter which stayed the prosecution. The Judge did not proceed with the trial because both the Judge and the prosecution conceded that Downey was ‘misled’ – paragraph 164, sub-section 4 of the Judgement – as a result of an erroneous letter telling him that he was not wanted in the UK when in fact the PSNI were aware that he was – not taking 2 opportunities in 2008 and 2009 to correct the error (see the core facts of the case below, pages 55 and 56). Downey went to the UK after being assured that he was not wanted then arrested when he got there. The Judge felt that this was an abuse of process and halted proceedings. This can be verified by reading the core facts of the case as described by Justice Sweeney, paragraph 173, page 53.

    But we knew that already didn’t we?

    There was no controversy Seamus, this is the epitome of faux outrage right in time for the local and European elections. We have a scheme which was offered to Republicans/Loyalists/governments – and the NI Prison Service who made us of it – and is so ‘secret’ that the Policing Board were briefed not once but twice, we have reference to it in The Eames Bradley Report, we have politicians who have confirmed they were aware it, the BBC reported on it and soon.

    Neil
    The Judge’s statement confirms that “In November 1989 a final decision was taken not to seek to extradite
    the defendant from the Republic of Ireland.”
    So the case wasn’t strong enough to extradite him

  • Son of Strongbow

    Although far from an ‘expert’: extradition requests do not imply settled guilt of any crime.

    The extradition arrangements between the UK and other countries vary and when an extradition request arrives via the British Ambassador in another country that country’s legal system will enact its own legal arrangements to address the extradition request.

    An established case may be required or an extradition may be requested to advance an investigation by making an individual amenable for further police interviews to gather more evidence.

    A court hearing will probably take place in the recipient country to determine the validity of the extradition and either grant or deny it.

    In the Downey case as an example the fact that he was charged and the evidence supported that charge, and his arraignment at court, would most certainly warrant an extradition request.

    Of course in relation to the ‘OTR’ story the legally bizarre process would be made even more surreal if the NIO sent so-called letters of discomfort that were based on evidence that did not amount to a hill of beans.

  • Son of Strongbow

    FFS Morpheus read over the first two sentences if your own post.

    It was “NOT” the existence of the “letter”; however ……. the prosecution was stayed because Downey was “misled” by an “erroneous letter”!

    If that letter did not exist Downey’s trial would have proceeded. The ‘letter’ was central to the judge’s decision to rule an abuse of process.

  • Morpheus

    It was not the fact that Downey received *a* letter it was the fact that he received a letter *with errors in it* which the Judge and prosecution conceded ‘misled’ him. If his letter did not contain errors then he would have received one which said that he was wanted

  • looneygas

    So at some point after Nov. 1989, when a final decision was taken not to extradite, the authorities gathered what they deemed to be sufficient evidence to charge Downey and bring him to trial.
    At what point did they gain this evidence?
    This evidence would have to pretty solid because they would not want the humiliation of starting such a trial only to end in acquittal.
    How long were they willing to wait for Downey to enter the UK?
    Does he often enter the UK? Does he go to Derry a lot?
    Are Dublin and London not on good terms as far as extraditions go?

  • looneygas

    I can understand that for some of McGuiness’ 40 or so cases who were told that they have active files, some would be cases where there’s some evidence but not enough to prosecute or ask for extradition, and others would be for more minor offences where the person in question wouldn’t be worth extraditing, but maybe not all that welcome in the UK either.
    I can’t see that Downey would fall in the category of “We’ll leave you be as long as you stay out of the UK.”
    I find it all very confusing.
    Someone on a different thread mentioned “British establishment doublespeak.”

  • Mick Fealty

    Mr Justice Sweeney’s Judgement is well worth a read, since it is probably the most revealing history of the various negotiations in the post GFA period.

    In the context of this discussion Art 28 gives SF’s pitch for a broad and encompassing standard in its own original appeal to the public interest:

    A second phase of negotiations began in July 1998. It was during those negotiations that the position of the OTRs was addressed.

    Sinn Fein argued, inter alia, that given the fact that many of the cases were very old, and given the introduction of the early release scheme by the 1998 Act, the position of the OTRs was anomalous.

    The more so, it was said, as a number of the OTRs were strong supporters of the Good Friday Agreement, whose presence in Northern Ireland, free from the risk of arrest, would further the peace process.

    Thus Sinn Fein wanted the Government to find a way to enable OTRs to return to, or to go to, Northern Ireland free from the risk of arrest / prosecution (including, where necessary, the dropping of outstanding extradition requests), and free from any adverse consequence flowing from arrest.

    Sinn Fein made clear that it regarded a successful outcome in relation to OTRs as being of critical importance to the eventual success of the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein’s position was broadly supported by the Irish Government. [Emphasis added]

    In in Article 33 it notes that on 5 May 2000 (which is around the time the UUP had expected decommissioning to have been completed (but of course was not)…

    …the Prime Minister wrote to Mr Adams, as follows:

    “I can confirm that, if you can provide details of a number of cases involving people ‘on the run’ we will arrange for them to be considered by the Attorney General, consulting the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police, as appropriate with a view to giving a response within a month if at all possible.

    You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement, since by then all remaining eligible prisoners will have been released, and have raised other related issues around the 28 July date.

    I would be willing to have these matters considered rapidly, with the aim of deciding the way forward before 28 July. Prosecution decisions are, of course, a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General…..”.

  • looneygas

    Thanks for posting the link, Mick.
    I found the details of the investigation interesting, how the Met figured Downey was “arrestable” but not “extraditable”(para 23).
    Also interesting was how the PSNI officer figured he wasn’t OTR because he was born in the Republic and lived there. Therefore he wasn’t on the run—he was at home.(106-7)
    Also interesting how members of the Operation Rapid team at least twice noted that Downey shouldn’t have been given a comfort letter, but failed to correct this error.(173.27)
    Also interesting that he had visited the both NI and the “mainland”(Justice Sweeney’s term) several times prior to his arrest at Gatwick in 2013.(140,173.27)
    Para 151 makes it look like a somewhat weak case, with the dead witnesses and such. I’d thought it would be a strong case.
    And, of course it was interesting that the whole mix-up started due to the use of the wrong search terms in a database.(112)
    Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Mick Fealty

    This is why I’ve been using the #ShinnersList hashtag. It’s the secret deal making that matters since that’s the reason the judge threw the case out before examination of the details.

    And I suspect this exactly what the AG was looking for rather than merely a successful prosecution. The operation of #ShinnersList is real politics in action.

    And it’s why I think this story will have an enduring effect on the course of politics in NI.

  • BarneyT

    Can we regard the need to balance Para crimes with IRA crimes…or indeed balance the “amnesty” as an admission that were was perhaps a war after all?

  • Morpheus

    The case was not thrown out because of any secret deal making Mick as we went over yesterday.

    The defense put forward 4 reasons why they think the prosecution should be stayed. The Judge dismissed 1, 2 and 4:
    “For the reasons set out above, I reject the first, second and fourth grounds for a stay advanced on behalf of the defendant. However, again for the
    reasons set out above, I uphold the third ground and order that the indictment in this case be stayed.”

    The conclusion for 3 starts on page 52 of the Judgement where the Judge sets out the core facts of the case, specifically in paragraph 173.


    (22) When the defendant received his letter he was entitled to and did believe that it was the product of careful and competent further work, and that there had been a genuine and correct change of mind about him – particularly given that he was a supporter of the peace process. He also believed, as a result of assurances (whether direct or indirect) from individuals in Sinn Fein who had been involved in the negotiations with the Government that he could rely upon the assurances given in the letter.

    (23) Hence he relied upon the assurance given by the Government that;
    “The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not aware of any interest in you from any police force in the United Kingdom” – which he rightly believed to be an assurance that if he went to the UK mainland he would not be at risk of arrest or prosecution unless (as the letter went on to say) “…any other outstanding offence came to light, or if any request for extradition were to be received” – neither of which apply in his case.

    (24) However that assurance was wholly wrong – he was wanted by the Metropolitan Police in relation to the Hyde Park Bombing, which involved the causing of an explosion and four murders. Thus, as the prosecution conceded, the defendant was wholly misled

    The Judge then talks about the failures of Operation Rapid and how they compounded the mistake by not taking advantage of not 1 but 2 occasions to correct their mistake.

    The Judge then goes on to say


    “(30) Relying on the letter, the defendant travelled to Canada, and on a number of occasions to Northern Ireland (including visits in furtherance of the peace process) and to the UK mainland.

    (31) The defendant was again acting in reliance on the letter when he sought to transit Gatwick Airport on route to Greece on 19 May 2013.

    (32) As the prosecution conceded in argument the defendant suffered detriment as a result ‐ by way of arrest, the loss of his freedom for a time, the imposition of strict bail conditions, and being put at risk of conviction for very serious offences (albeit that the latter is tempered, to some extent, by the fact that even if convicted of all the offences he would, in consequence of the 1998 Act, serve no more than two years in prison).

    He then wraps up his conclusion in paragraph 175 by saying:
    “Given the core facts as I have found them to be, and the wider undisputed facts, I have conducted the necessary evaluation of what has occurred in the light of the competing public interests involved. Clearly, and notwithstanding a degree of tempering in this case by the operation of the 1998 Act, the public interest in ensuring that those who are accused of serious crime should be tried is a very strong one (with the plight of the victims and their families firmly in mind). However, in the very particular circumstances of this case it seems to me that it is very significantly outweighed in the balancing exercise by the overlapping public interests in ensuring that executive misconduct does not undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and bring it into disrepute, and the public interest in holding officials of the state to promises they have made in full understanding of what is involved in the bargain. Hence I have concluded that this is one of those rare cases in which, in the particular circumstances, it offends the court’s sense of justice and propriety to be asked to try the defendant.”

    #ShinnerList is not accurate. It has already been brought to light that Republicans, Loyalists and the Governments could avail of the scheme – and let’s not forget the NI Prison Service also making requests under it. It was hardly just the Shinner’s list.

  • Morpheus
  • Mick Fealty

    Who could benefit from, and who bid for its set up are separate questions Morph.

  • Morpheus

    OK so now we know that:
    1. the end product of the scheme (ie. the letters) were legally sound and non-controversial
    2. a mistake in Operation Rapid which caused the Downey case to collapse,
    3. Republicans, Loyalists, The British Government, The Irish Government and The NI Prison Service – at least – could benefit from the scheme
    4. The Policing Board – containing representatives from SF, SDLP, DUP, UUP, PUP – were briefed about the scheme in April 2010 (plus on one other occasion according to Denis Bradley – minutes still to be found)
    5. Politicians have confirmed that they knew about the scheme but not that non-controversial letters would be distributed
    6. The BBC were writing about the scheme as far back as 2002
    7. The Government’s Chief of staff at the time wrote that Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds “said they could accept the implementation of the unpopular undertakings we had made under the Joint Declaration on OTRs as long as Tony (Blair) wrote to (Ian) Paisley making it clear that these concessions had been agreed during David Trimble’s watch, not theirs.” Something disputed by the DUP.

    There are questions to be asked about who initiated the scheme and why The Justice Minister didn’t know the ins-and-outs of the scheme (especially considering the NI Prison Service which comes under his remit were taking advantage of the scheme) but other than that I am running out of reasons to see why this is a controversy.

  • Mick Fealty

    You’re dodging the main point, made perfectly clear by Adam’s own reference to ‘public interest’.

  • IanR

    The second and third grounds for staying the trial, submitted by the defence, can be summarised as ‘conspiracy’ and ‘cock-up’ respectively.

    The second ground for staying the trial submitted by the defence was:

    “It would be unfair for the defendant to be tried in the light of the expectation created by governmental statements that prosecutions would not be pursued in respect of those who would otherwise qualify for early release (as, it is common ground, the defendant did and does) under the scheme provided (in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement) by the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”).”

    i.e. the conspiracy that Mick has been alluding to.

    However, Judge Sweeney dismissed this second ground for staying the trial, and in doing so endorsed the submission by the prosecution which stated:

    “the reality (clearly understood on both sides and eventually publicly) was that OTRs remained subject to prosecution if there was sufficient evidence against them.”

    The trial therefore only collapsed because Sweeney agreed with the defence submission in relation to the third ground, namely that a misleading letter had been sent to Downey. i.e. the cock-up.

    Bernard Ingham had it nailed.

    As an aside, there’s an interesting reference to Sean O’Callaghan in paragraph 151(3) on page 46. I’m surprised no-one’s picked up on that yet.

  • Mick Fealty

    We’re still at cross purposes here boys. It’s not conspiracy, it’s a process that was heretofore a secret one. Blair responding directly to Adams:

    You have also questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement, since by then all remaining eligible prisoners will have been released, and have raised other related issues around the 28 July date.

    Public interest. And note Adams broad and comprehensive terms. Hain has taken an awful of crap from people on this site for saying exactly what Adams supplicated to the Blair government.

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful but it may help if I offering a slightly crass analogy by refering you to the last scene in that great musical Singing in the Rain. Hain is using the arguments and terms that Gerry used some 15 years ago in order to get his own people off the judicial hook.

    It’s the old switch-a-roo… Adams is the real star of the show…

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s not to say there cannot be a public interest case in favour of old convictions. But in the case of Sinn Fein they cannot continue to espouse both at one and the same time.

    Not now the whole arrangement around #ShinnersList is in the open.

    The Post Office model that Alban described perfectly well last Friday can only be supported if there is a public interest in letting people know if they are wanted.

    You can’t do it and nor can I. There would be no ‘public interest’ in extending us the same privileges.

    If Gerry wanted his people to have peace of mind in order to let the peace grow and prosper he standing in a very deep hole to argue that the people they fought cannot have the same privilege in the teeth of rights he has also promised lots of innocent victims.

  • Morpheus

    So you are not angry about the letters or the scheme – you are angry about what Gerry Adams tried – and failed – to get 15-20 years ago?

    When it comes to the ‘Post office Model’ then what are the PSNI supposed to do if they are asked for confirmation? Not tell them? What Gerry’s ‘people’ wanted was confirmation if they were wanted or not. They weren’t wanted so they went home on the understanding that if new evidence came to light they would be prosecuted. The ‘people they fought’ can just as easily avail of exactly the same scheme to see if they are wanted or not.

  • Mick Fealty

    Why do you assume I’m angry? [Genuinely, I'm curious?]

    I’ve been examining key material from the judgement which you seem to be missing. There are now other various lines of inquiry (with the PSNI, Prison Service, NIO) which will test this whole process to destruction, and a key test will be the Adams public interest defence.

    Personally, I suspect the core argument will hold. At which point the septuagenarian paras may well decide to launch appeal of their own and precisely along the lines Gerry pitched for his people.

    If the principle has held, then they may be home free, their bulwark argument being drawn from said ‘Adams defence’.

    We have a few months to go. But we may have the opportunity to move from a clandestine, and one sided arrangement with the state to something a great deal more equitable and fair to both victims and perpetrators.

  • Morpheus

    Maybe angry is the wrong word Mick, I am just trying to nail down why exactly you find this scheme so controversial because let’s be honest here, your position has changed several times in the past few days. One minute the letters are ‘legally sound and non controversial’ the next they are ‘evidence of a deal with the British government to jug past convictions’. Then you say that the Downey case collapsed because of a secret deal when the Judgement makes it clear that it didn’t. Then you say that it was a secret then concede that our politicians did know about the scheme but maybe didn’t know enough. Then we have the constant use of #ShinnerList when it is clear that the governments and the NI Prison Service also took advantage of the scheme and it was open to a lot more than the Shinners..

    GA questioned whether it would be in the public interest to mount any prosecutions after 28 July for offences alleged to have been committed before the Good Friday Agreement and Tony Blair put him straight by correctly telling him that Prosecution decisions are a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General. GA questioned if prosecutions after the GFA were in the public interest, he did *not* get the Government to agree that they would not prosecute. Had he succeeded in that then there would be cause for concern but he didn’t.

    The soldiers facing the consequences of their actions on Bloody Sunday needs to happen. They should face trail just to prove that no one is above the law then if found guilty sign a RPOM so they don’t go to prison and are home in time for Corrie. Innocent civilians were shot and killed and we know that individuals from the Paras did the shooting.

  • Mick Fealty

    Morpheus,

    Of course Adams’ own public interest argument can be reversed (which, de facto, you would be doing by going after the Paras).

    But undoing that (now that everyone actually knows about it) might also adversely affect those who have received letters.

    #ShinnersList is a list of volunteers who think they might have committed an offence, collated and delivered to the state authorities by SF could be used as a means to start revisiting old cases in a more focused way.

    Just as the Bloody Sunday families are doing around Savile. It could be monitored by the Ombudsman to ensure no one in the PSNI is slacking.

    I’m neutral on the question. I know some people think SF have been clever on this. They were, of course. But only up until the point they got caught.

    If I were a name on that list, I’d be a little nervous about how the leadership choose to play this.

    Even more so since having lost the initiative they had after Haass to the DUP.

    Even if they wanted to help, SF are now very much on the backfoot with the very victims groups they encouraged to organise and seek justice. Safety of volunteers always comes first.

  • Morpheus

    Completely disagree.

    I think now that the DUP-led hysteria has begun to subside people can see in the cold light of day that this was a mountain made out of a molehill all in the name of seats/salaries/pension/expenses. All the DUP buzzwords like amnesty, immunity, GOOJF cards have all been debunked. The Manualian myth that ‘they know nothing’ has been debunked. The myth that the Downey case collapsed because of the administrative scheme has been debunked. The hissy-fit that PR threw has been shown to be just that, a child-like tantrum. The Judge led inquiry which PR is holding up as some sort of victory is simply a Judge making sure there are no more PSNI mistakes in the letters – although I sincerely hope he calls Jonathan Powell. Going forward, what is going to change? The PSNI refusing to answer requests for confirmation? Hardly

    If I were a name on that list I would just get on with my life and keep my nose clean because I would know that I am on a watch list.

    SF lost no initiative after Haass – ghe people on ther street did – political unionism just proved to the world that they are still to this day lead by the nose by the unrepresentative, anti-Catholic Loyal Orders. Haass knows what went on, Obama and his administration know what went on and Cameron know what went on, we all do.

    As for SF in general then I note that the polls show they increased in the polls in RoI again. Weird that.

  • Mick Fealty

    First thing under the bus? St Patrick’s Day deadline. Replaced with multiple review processes.

  • Morpheus

    Mick until the Haass issues are resolved the Shinners will always be able to say to the world with a high degree of credibility “We tried but look what we were up against” Further delays, reviews and things thrown under buses compounds that even further.

  • Mick Fealty

    Only saying like…

  • Son of Strongbow

    I now see the chief Slugger advocate for the Shinner OTR scheme is claiming to speak for the “people”.

    The DUP “hysteria” over the secret deal was shared by the SDLP, the UUP and the Alliance parties. But, much as with the OTR scheme itself, best not to let the facts get in the way of Sinn Fein spin.

    Of course I can well understand how a scheme designed to facilitate terrorist suspects would be regarded by some as a “molehill” issue. After all ‘comforting’ ‘volunteers’ is a vote winner in some quarters.

  • Morpheus

    Blah diddy blah blah blah.

    I have yet to see you even try to put forward an intelligent argument to debunk anything I have said. Not one

  • socaire

    Help for Heroes – eh SoS?

  • socaire

    Why was the public not told about this grubby side deal?

    TAXPAYERS cover all 108 MLAs against libel costs – including an estimated £50,000 damages bill incurred by the DUP’s Paul Givan yesterday.
    The Irish News has learned that Mr Givan will not have to pay anything in the libel case brought by former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan because insurance is provided at the public’s expense.

  • Mick Fealty

    We told em, last April. Was anyone listening? :-)

  • Mick Fealty

    Cards anyone? Or have we just talked this one out?

  • looneygas

    Paragraph 43 contains a line at the end about how, of all the options available for dealing with OTR’s, amnesty would “contaminate” the justice system less than the other options.
    Paragraph 44 quickly summarizes that all solutions other than the “administrative scheme” were too difficult and that only this scheme offered a way to make progress.

  • looneygas

    43.
    In the meanwhile consideration was being given to other potential solutions. For example, in January 2001, following earlier work in November 2000, Sir Quentin Thomas produced a report for the Government setting out the available options in relation to the remaining OTRs, including ‐continuing the normal processes of the law; deciding as a matter of policy in the public interest not to pursue extradition in respect of some or all of those suspected; providing an automatic amnesty in respect of all relevant offences; providing a selective amnesty whereby only “deserving” applicants would benefit; providing a conditional inhibition on prosecutions so that prosecution in respect of relevant offences would not be possible unless the offender was engaged in terrorism or was a supporter of a specified organisation; using the Royal Prerogative by way of pre‐conviction pardons; or legislating to refine the considerations which inform the assessment made by the prosecuting authorities of the public interest in mounting a prosecution (although this was not assessed to provide a viable option). Sir Quentin concluded that whilst a conditional prohibition on prosecutions offered the best combination of political defensibility, acceptability to Republicans and administrative convenience, an automatic amnesty would be more straightforward and would minimise the contamination of the system of justice.
    44.
    However, given the difficulties involved in those solutions, only the review of individual cases by the DPP(NI) under the superintendence of the Attorney General, and with any necessary investigation being carried out by the RUC, provided a way to make some progress. The process thus continued. It became known as the administrative scheme or process for dealing with OTRs, and included regular overviews of progress. Over time, the RUC became the PSNI and the Office of the DPP(NI) became the PPS.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Morpheus,

    Of course I can’t “debunk” your support for the grubby secret OTR deal. How could I? You have nailed your colours very firmly to the mast.

    The Shinner ‘nothing to see here’ position that you have been spinning promiscuously on multiple threads since day one does however appear to be taking some time to die down. Why could that be I wonder?

    Oh yes, I forgot it’s all down to Robinson and the DUP. Yet given your obvious animus towards that party don’t you even wonder for a moment how Robinson’s initial histrionics has been able to gather so much attention for so long a time? A week as they say is a long time in politics.

    Now if you ever venture out of your green redoubt try asking a few random individuals a couple of questions:

    1. did you know there was a referendum on the GFA that included terrorist prisoners being released, and that subsequently convicted terrorists were required only to serve a maximum of two years in prison?

    2. before this weeks events did you know that a deal had been arranged between Sinn Fein and the government concerning ‘OTRs’?

    Following your survey reflect on the percentages answering in the affirmative to question one and then question two.

  • Morpheus

    Good spot LG

    I wonder who headed these ‘regular reviews of progress.’

  • Neil

    Northern Ireland spokeswoman Baroness Randerson told the Lords: “They were not letters of comfort. They were factual statements.”

    She said: “No recipient of such a letter should be in any doubt that if evidence emerges after the date the letter was issued in connection with terrorist offences committed before the Belfast agreement, they will be liable for arrest and prosecution.”

    “The letters did not amount to immunity, exemption or amnesty from arrest.”

    Lady Randerson said that on the basis that these were simply factual letters, the current government agreed the list of names submitted by Sinn Fein to the previous government could “continue to be checked”

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/secret-letters-not-immunity-30062315.html

  • Morpheus

    I can have a stab at that myself SoS, no need to get in touch with Lucid.

    1. The early release scheme? Hmmmmm, let me think…yeah, I think I’ve heard about that somewhere. Do you seriously think there is ANYONE who didn’t know about it???

    2. No I didn’t know about the OTR administrative scheme just like I don’t know about the many, many other operations undertaken by the PSNI, I leave that sort of stuff to the democratically elected public representatives and the other professionals who get paid large sums of money to handle that sort of thing.

    I took the time to debunk the myths SoS because I didn’t see anyone else taking any steps to do so. I am capable of independent thought and don’t just swallow the BS the DUP have to dish out.

  • socaire

    Yeah, I know you did ,Mick. Just the last scrape of this particular barrel.

  • Mick Fealty

    Interesting there’s no comments after Spotlight. Focusing on the document is not as instructive as the deal that brought into being. Adams defence will, at the very least, give the Paras a chance a home run. Politically, as the judge notes above, it’s hard to defend sorting one anomaly without defending them all.

  • Morpheus

    Personally I didn’t watch Spotlight Mick, it’s on my to do list. Before I do would I be right in saying that it is full of anti-SF hysteria, people being ‘shacked’ and garbage about the GFA being void?

    Moving on, keeping in mind that innocent civilians were shot and killed, many either running – or crawling – for cover, do you think the Paras deserve a home run Mick?

    When it comes to anomalies there is a key difference. In the case of those who received the letters then it has been confirmed that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. In the case of the Paras £200m was spent on a public inquiry highlighting what happened on Bloody Sunday in painstaking detail, everything from the Paras firing first to the aftermath.

    It genuinely concerns me that our Justice System has been reduced to a quid pro quo – ‘one of ours for one of yours’ or ‘none of ours for none of yours’, whatever the case me be. So much for Peter Robinson’s big speech that “the credibility of the justice system is a cornerstone in any democracy.”