Northern Ireland: Europe’s emergent Zimbabwe?

Tom Kelly reckons that recent government proposals seriously compromise basic principles of law and justice, that once broken cannot be easily rectified. Firstly:

The ‘on the run’ (OTR) legislation is yet another form of stomach-churning pandering that is difficult to fathom alongside a commitment not to forget victims. Terrorists who have committed atrocities won’t have to spend one day in jail or show up in court thanks to the government-inspired amnesty. And before any NIO wordsmith gets smart – if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck; it’s a duck. If you are not convicted of anything, don’t own up to anything and don’t serve time for anything it’s an amnesty.

The Provisionals did not seem to mind that ‘state’ perpetrators of unlawful actions could avail of the opt-out clause on ‘scheduled offences’. Why should they? This whole process has made lairs out of the non-violent pro-agreement parties. For the Provisionals the game has always been about power for them and patronage for their henchmen.

But the Zimbabwe jibe is based on the second wave of proposals around the government’s proposals that CRJ, need not refer anything to the police:

The issues surrounding ‘community restorative justice’ schemes are equally abhorrent. What is so difficult about the government saying that there can be no such scheme which operates outside of the criminal justice system and which is not police approved? Any scheme which operates outside of this should be deemed illegal and closed down. As a member of the Policing Board I am fed up with elements of the NIO undermining the primacy of the board in policing matters. Patten rightly described the board as the ‘policing’ not the police board and that point seems lost on some.

It is futile to talk about the transfer of policing and judicial powers to any locally elected members until that primacy is established. To do otherwise could make the board a political pawn in the hands of a partisan minister. Not that British ministers worry about such things, after all they have an eye on the succession arising from the war of the roses at Millbank.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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