Legislation: hasty and victim unfriendly

For Sinn Fein, the business of the OTRs is ‘just a bit of housekeeping’ left over from the IRA’s apparently conditional decision to decommission the bulk, if not all, of its weapons. But Brian Walker thinks that in its haste for closure the British government may have miscalculated on a number of issues.

The first is the failure to set a deadline of say a year for an offender to come forward to seek a pardon. Without a deadline, why should anyone except the most homesick of exiled OTRs ever come forward at all?

The second is the failure to insist that applicants should appear in person to answer the charges before the special tribunal of retired county court judges from England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

The danger also arises that defendants will not need to enter a plea, knowing that refusal means an automatic “not guilty” plea. All their lawyers need to do to secure amnesty without admitting guilt is to rubbish the Crown case and plead lack of prosecution evidence. No plea, no guilt, no stain on their character. Neat. Not at all what Mr Blair intended, we must assume.

The third objection is the failure to set up a proper Crown court – perhaps because serving Northern Ireland High Court judges would have nothing to do with what they may regard as an adulteration of the judicial process. Lord Chief Justice Kerr owes it to the public to make the position of the judiciary clear.

Although it was not quite the question he was asked, Martin McGuinness’s response on Daily Ireland this morning (sound file) when he said he did not know who or how many people would avail of the mechanism, was consistent with the nature of the proposed legislation.

  • Pete Baker

    Worth noting, Mick [got to lose that Admin label btw] that yesterday Adams was having second thoughts, or more likely, hedging his bets.. and stating that, in his opinion, the legislation should only apply to less than two dozen people.. all of whom Sinn Féin know

    “All of those we are aware of are Irish republicans and number less than two dozen and are firm supporters of the peace process.”

  • Crataegus

    Like much of what new Labour is doing this has not been thought through. It plays politics with, abuses, and seeks to make an ass of, the Legal system. Dangerous territory and all the more reason for exercising due care.

    I never thought I would look forward to this government being replaced by the Conservatives but the track record of NEW Labour on so many issues is poor.

  • Yokel

    Peter Hain was not a happy man. Although he is a United Ireland supporter at heart, he really doesn’t believe in this particular piece of work.

    Tony forgot that parliament existed..again and this bill will either be delayed or amended or both in ways that will mean the bill will end up doing more damage to the process than it was apparently designed to heal.

    Whats also most shocking and bloody well exciting that those parties who have traditonally subscribed to purely democratic means are actually united.(Yes go on start talking about individual’s histories if you want, its irrelevant, for everyone someone picks on the opposite side will have its own case study..I’m tired of yer ya boo merchants, pathetic)

    Are we at last reaching a point where its democrats versus not so democrats which is really where this country should have been a long time ago?

    Let us pray….

  • Zorro

    Martin McGuinness said he did not know who or how many people would avail of the mechanism. Who, apart from his own supporters, believes him? Once again, the voice of arrogance from SF!

  • In NI the SDLP, UUP, DUP, Alliance are all against it yet SF/IRA are for it. It shows who is calling the shots.

  • “victim unfriendly” – who gives a s*** about victims?

  • Comrade Stalin (Commissar for Software Engineering

    bertie, the shots are being called by the British government, who are trying to explain in a not so subtle way the consequences of our failure to manage our own affairs. They are tired of bailing us out, tired of paying for us, and tired of being slagged off and called traitors and terrorist sympathisers by the unionist leadership.

    Had this RPA been received by our own executive, it would have been thrown out. Instead we’re at the mercy of the Secretary of State.

    It’s a choice between this sort of nonsense and power sharing with a disarmed Sinn Fein. An executive would have the ability to stop the implementation of the RPA review. Which will it be ?