Sinn Fein pull out of OTR deal…

In the continuing Northern Irish cold war, it’s hard to tell what’s motivated this move, but Sinn Fein is pulling out of the OTR deal it privately negotiated with the British at Weston Park, because of ‘a sleight of hand’ in including security forces as part of what amounts to an ‘amnesty’. It now joins every other party in Northern Ireland and in the Westminster Commons in opposing the legislation.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    Despite the repeated references to Weston Park.. there is a more recent public document on the proposed legislation.. from April 2003.

    Proposals in relation to on the runs[pdf file]

    4. Legislation would set out who and what offences qualified for the scheme. A qualifying offence would be any scheduled or equivalent offence committed before 10 April 1998. It would include offences committed by, or in the course of, escaping, or committed as part of an incident involving a scheduled offence. A qualifying person would be someone:

    • who was not a supporter of a specified organisation;

    • who was not currently involved in acts of terrorism; and

    • who had not been convicted of a serious offence committed after 10 April 1998 for which he had received a sentence of five years or more.

    5. An individual who believed that he was covered by the terms of the legislation would apply in writing to an Eligibility Body. The applicant or his representative would be asked to confirm that he was not a supporter of a specified organisation. The Eligibility Body would ask the Secretary of State for information, including details of any charges brought in relation to offences allegedly committed after 10 April 1998, and any information on whether the applicant is a supporter of a specified organisation or is involved in terrorism. The information from the applicant and the Secretary of State would be considered and a determination reached as to the eligibility of the individual against the criteria set out above.

    The only apparent sleight-of-hand seems to be in the title of the Bill.

    Any news on whether SF will oppose the presidential pardons?

  • NORTHERN FF

    Well done SDLP.

  • TAFKABO

    The problem for republicans and others is that thanks to the way the OTR case was handled, the Genie is out of the bottle.

    Regardless of what happens to paramilitaries, now that state forces have been mentioned in a proposed amnesty I predict that the government will go ahead with some form of legislation that covers them.This will get approval by a British parliament which has a clear history of being willing to turn a blind eye to abuses of law by the forces of the state.

  • kate

    A ‘U’ turn?

  • seabhac siulach

    Payback for Donaldson and the bad faith shown by the Brits…

    Was Donaldson involved in any way in ‘negotiating’ the whole OTR business?

  • Fenian Bastard

    I think this may be the start of hard ball by Sinn Fein.

    Any news on the rumoured SDLP withdrawls from the policing boards?

    Interesting times.

  • Acer

    What motivated this is very simple. Full credit where it is due: the SDLP played a blinder, and showed every sign of continuing to slaughter SF on this. The SDLP managed to convince the great majority of people that either SF were conned by Tony Blair, or it was a dirty little deal. Passage through the house of Commons promised to be very bloody, with SF lined up with Blair and every other party (and much of the Labour party) in the Commons utterly hostile. Add SF’s post-Donaldson travails and it was cut your losses time.

    As for the presidential pardons, my understanding is that the Irish government only intended intorducing these after the British OTR legislation was on the books. If the latter has fallen, then presumably so too has the former.

  • heck

    every party in northern ireland opposes the bill.

    I guess it will go throught then.

    As I said before isn’t British democracy in NI wonderful?

  • brendan,belfast

    we are living through interesting times. The SDLP have outscored the Sinners on this one – no doubt about that. I assume the provos simply hoped nobody would realise what a dirty deal they had done. they negotiated for themselves alone and to hell with anyone else. only problem for them was, everyone else woke up.

    its been quite a week for ‘the process’

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It was always a strange state of affairs that the British Government would try to protect the killers of nationalists by appending their killers onto what is commonly known as the On The Run legislation.
    Even the most fervent pro Britsh hack would be loathe to go along with their being any British Army or police personnel ‘on the run’ for killing nationalists.

    As it is those people who are indeed on the run have signalled that they will not be availing of any legislation put forward by the British. So as things stand the only people to benefit from this legislation will be people who were not even discussed during the Westo Park talks. The cover up of killers of nationalists will be made official.

    On Presidential pardons they will go through if Ahern wants them to. Pat Doherty has stated that they will availled of by those who requested them.

  • IJP

    True, Brendan, but to be fair it was the Alliance Party that raised this in response to SF in 2001 and has done so ever since.

    The SDLP only got excited when there was political capital in it (and did very well on the back of that, to its credit). Alliance always realized this was a pathetic and corrupt side-deal that could go nowhere.

    And to be fair the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP didn’t mind single-party hand-outs when they were the largest parties in their respective tribal camps.

    Let us learn the clear lesson here: private negotiations and pathetic hand-outs do not work. The parties should be negotiating with each other, not the Government(s).

    Whatever happened to ‘All-party peace talks now’…?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m really not being funny Pat, but I heard Martin McGuinness say he had no idea how many people would be affected by this legislation (can’t remember which programme it was) a few weeks back, after the story had broken.

    So how is it possible to know what the OTRs think about it now?

    Adds: Eek! I just been instructed to put entry code ‘returned82’. Freaky!!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Mick,

    I am simply quoting Pat Doherty who stated that in the past week or so they have been trying to contact as many of the OTR’s as possible to gauge their opinion on the matter, he stated this was time consuming because there was no formal OTR organisation.
    .According to Doherty they want nothing to do with the legislation.

    I probably should have stated, As it is those people (contacted by SF) who are indeed on the run have signalled that they will not be availing of any legislation put forward by the British.

    While not knowing definitively how many there are I believe they would know most.

  • paddycanuck@home.com

    A few things which emerge from the OTR’s and Donaldson affairs.

    The participaion of Northerners at westminster is redundant, not worth a penny candle.

    British politicians from which ever governing party act with impunity in their own interest, to the detriment to the people of the six counties.

    The SDLP are impotent at westminster. The OTR legislation illustrates how helpless they are, and undermines there case for sending representatives a foreign paliament.

    Irish Unity, and a 32 couty Dail, is the only forum in which all the people of the six counties will acheive full representation and democratic accountability.

    As far as the Donaldson affair is concerned. The SDLP position of joining the policing board, and supporting the PSNI, has also been exposed as naive and utterly useless. They are not able to promote any meaningful change, or to hold the PSNI to any meaningful accountability. They are lapdogs of the cheif constable and believe everything that their securocrat handlers tell them.

    Their decision to support the PSNI, has been proven to be wrong on all accounts.

    Sinn Fein certainly have egg on their face, but they have been consistent in their position, of rejecting the right of British politicians to rule the six counties, and they are building a platform to a United Ireland.

    They have also been consistent in exposing the agenda of securocrats, and in resisting supporting policing in the north, until it is properly reformed.

    Naionalists will continue to look to Sinn Fein to deliver real change, despite the attempts of the British Security Services to stifle real change. The Brits do not need to infiltrate the SDLP, because they already have them in there back pocket.

  • British Intelligence and the PSNI SB probably knew about this decision two weeks ago.

    SDLP, time to get off the policing boards or you’ll lose at least one vote – mine.

  • Lover not a Golfer

    I think the Brits played a blinder on this one. Of course they were not going to hang their lot out to dry, while at the same time granting amnesty to OTRs. Its just thats not how they sold it to SF or to Parliament. The legislation gives a bye-ball to everyone whom the PSNI had reason to suspect may have been up to no good during the conflict, as long as PSNI knew so prior to November 1, 2005. Neatly wraps up all those pesky historical inquiry cases, not to mention the Cory inquiries.

    Unfortunately, SF’s pull-out at this point wont make a blind bit of difference.

    Heck’s hit it on the head. Brits? Sure you can’t be up to them.

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    “Let us learn the clear lesson here: private negotiations and pathetic hand-outs do not work. The parties should be negotiating with each other, not the Government(s).”

    I’m inclined to agree; side deals are called divide and rule. Good to see some commonality of purpose developing on this and the spy ring affair, even if it is for various different reasons.

    Why negotiate with the British when first and foremost the people you need to come to an understanding with are your neighbours? It is like choosing Lucifer, because of some ancient tiff with the Ex. Why should any of us trust Labour? We are an irrelevant liability to them, an embarrassing, costly and time consuming waste of time. What leverage do we have over them? Distant dreams of a hung government?

    The OTR legislation will have a choppy enough path through Westminster.

  • Someone should do a docu-drama on this farce!

    So let me get it clear as of this momnent no one wants the legislation, or rather no one will admit to wanting it. Priceless!

  • Seanno

    “This will get approval by a British parliament which has a clear history of being willing to turn a blind eye to abuses of law by the forces of the state.”

    This was their plan all along. As already stated, even if Sinn Fein compleltely decide to avoid this legislation, they’ve already opened the doors for British abuses to be pardoned.

    How do you say it, “hoodwinked”, “bamboozled”, etcetera, etcetera..

  • Zorro

    Congrats to the SDLP!

    I fully agree with Mark Durkan when he said SF are trying to cover up their role in this mess. This only enforces the point that SF got this issue wrong from the start

    The deal by Sinn Fein and the British Government covered “all scheduled offences.” which includes state murders! It is there in a public document for all to see and it is what Sinn Fein signed up to!

    The normal SF spin can’t whitewash this U-Turn!

  • kate

    Fenian B how can this be the start of hard ball by SF? Isn’t it more of damage limitation. If this bill had gone through with SF blessing, and the families of victims of collusion came out against SF, as some have already done in the papers, for example a brother of a victim of bloody sunday- then SF would have suffered more disdain in their own areas. They can’t afford that right now. Perhaps taking cover rather than playing hard ball.

  • Visioner

    I wonder what will happen now with the Labour backbenchers supporting this terrible legislation in the benefit of the “peace process”.?

    However is Sinn Fein/IRA opposition now just a front? I am sure that if this legislation gets through they will (and YES they will) reem in the benefits of it and you will see OTR’s be given and use their ‘get out of jail free cards’. Whilst Sinn Fein will say “we didn’t support this legislation”. The SDLP can benefit from some serious political capital here and don’t Sinn Fein know it!

  • Mayo Man

    In circumstances like this where SF takes a knock, doesn’t the leadership always react in the same way, blaming securocrats, the Brits, those disloyal Southerners or anyone else? They will try and ride the wave until after Christmas, in the hope that it will buy them some time to regroup.

  • willowfield

    I take it this is, in part, an attempt by the Provos to try to switch the focus of the news agenda away from their infiltration by agents.

  • JD

    Kate,

    Is that the same brother of a Bloody Sunday victim standing alongside Pat Doherty today?

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Paddy Canuk writes:
    ‘The Brits do not need to infiltrate the SDLP, because they already have them in there back pocket.’

    I have sorted out the grammar so i can respond now.

    who exactly has been outed as a Brit spy this week? what branch of the SDLP did Donaldson belong to?

    What ‘real change’ are SF delivering for the wider population? Legislation for their mates? thanks but I’ll decline that one if you dont mind.

  • JD

    The SDLP have become an irrevelance in the body politic of Ireland. They have served their purpose as far as the establishment are concerned and will be ditched by their many so-called allies in Britain and in Ireland when the winds of change begin to blow in a different direction. Attempts to morph themselves in republicans have failed miserably and they latest strategy of attacking Sinn Fein at every turn (no doubt on the instructions of failed american strategists) is playing quite badly in the broad nationalist community, they are starting to sound similar to the DUP. Whatever progressive thinkers that there were in the SDLP seem to have been sidelined as the Attwoods assume centre stage, a massive flaw IMHO.

  • Zorro

    JD

    Your self-delusional type of rant typifies why Ireland is so messed up.

    Attempts to morph themselves in republicans have failed miserably

    Wrong. The SDLP are a genuine Irish Republican party by principle and deed something SF can never be. The only irrevelance in the body politic of Ireland is violence which SF and the Provos forced on Ireland for over thirty years. It is my opinion that they and their supporters are a pathetic excuse for Irish Nationalism.

    The SDLP didn’t murder any one.

    The SDLP didn’t sell out to the British Government .

    It is only to be expected that SF will try and deflect attention away from the deal they did with the British Government at Hillsborough in 2003. They were either too thick to see or too shallow to hold out on a deal which covered “all scheduled offences.” , which included state murders!

    Why has it taken Sinn Fein a month and a half to come out against this legislation?

    Why did Conor Murphy fly over to Westminster to welcome it?
    (the day after Peter Hain made clear that it applied to state killers!)

    Why did Martin McGuinness accuse the SDLP of being “naïve” in saying that state killers should not be covered?

    It is plain for all to see. SF believe their own hype, that is well known. Amongst there own sycophants they’re king because nobody questions them. However in the wider political area Sinn Fein are inept!

    NB JD, you might wish to note the spelling mistake in your quote but then again…

  • JD

    Please, Zorro you in danger of doing this issue to death, yes, Sinn Feins’ early reaction to this legislation was piss poor, however SDLP attempts to capitalise on this are undermined by their lack of integrity on the issue of collusion and state violence and broad nationalism are not fooled. My post addressed the wider political dynamic in Ireland and recent SDLP strategy, you conviently avoided both, deal with the issue at hand, the ‘we didn’t murder anyone’ statement merely ducks the issue.

  • Acer

    A question: if SF regarded yesterday’s decision as good news, and not frantic damage limitation, would Gerry & Martin have allowed Pat Doherty to make the announcement? When was the last time the president of SF and the “chief negotiator” left the good news annoucements to the mere vice-president? Looks like those 5,000 OTR chickens from Cavan have laid eggs all over Gerry and Martin’s faces. Once again: to the SDLP, and Mark Durkan in particular, maximum respect.

  • kate

    JD since I did not see Pat Doherty on television today I do not know if it is the same brother. However, I was refering to the Derry Journals article ‘On the Runs law is scandalous’-Bloody sundays victims brother, who was named as John Kelly.

    If it was Mr Kelly beside Pat Doherty perhaps it is because SF have decided to do a ‘U’ turn on this legislation. I am sure Mr Kelly would be glad to hear that, as I would presume are all victims families. If it wasn’t Mr Kelly beside Pat Doherty then I hope this answers your post.

  • JD

    Yes, it was John Kelly, because as he said recently he is not fooled by the SDLP new found backing for the victims of state violence when for years they were turned away from SDLP controlled Derry City Council and dismissed as a Sinn Fein front.

  • kate

    Mr Kelly called for all nationalist politicians to oppose this bill, as has been said in previous posts,and by the Derry Journal who carried what Mr Kelly said. SF were the only party to welcome this bill. It took them weeks after every other party condemned it before they caught on.

    I am relieved for the families that at last SF have decided to condemn this bill, even if they are late.

  • Crataegus

    Let me first say that I am glad that SF now oppose this legislation.

    I have a basic problem with the basic tenor of this thread, what is the difference between the victim of state violence and someone who is simply the victim of violence? Has one victim greater rights than another or is it that one act of barbarism is lesser than another simply because of who is responsible?

    If this is the thinking then, shame on us all for this place is morally bankrupt. We need all perpetrators of barbarity to account for their actions. What sort of standards are we setting for the future?

  • Crateagus

    The SF/IRA position would appear to be that there is a difference. Apart from it and its supporters, I don’t think anyone else has adopted this position.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Zorro,

    ‘The deal by Sinn Fein and the British Government covered “all scheduled offences.” which includes state murders!’

    A tad disingenuous from Zorro but lets try and stick to the facts and the SDLP stance on the issue.

    From the time of Weston Pk and even before this has been known as the On The Run issue. All political parties and commentators have referred to it as such. Not one party or commentator referred to it as the ‘all scheduled offences’ issue.
    I certainly never heard the SDLP in the period after Weston Pk to the time the British appended their killers to the issue refer to it as covering all scheduled offences. This is simply because, like eveyone else, the SDLP believed it referred to people who were ‘on the run’.

    It was only after the British published their proposals that they realised, like everyone else, that the British had added the British Army and Police to the ‘On The Run’ legislation. Although why they should be added to such legislation is beyond belief, the very fact they never had to go on the run over anything proof in point.

    Unfortunately for the SDLP they have been unable to establish their bona fides among they very group of people who they claim to champion on this issue. The families of the victims of collusion have been very thin on the ground supporting the SDLP.

  • Zorro

    JD said:

    the ‘we didn’t murder anyone’ statement merely ducks the issue.

    Wrong. It is precisely this point why the nationalist vote is fragmented. Despite attempts by the treasonous SF to suggest the role of the SDLP has run it’s course, there is, always was and, I would suggest, always will be those true Irish Republicans who can not bring themselves to support the Provos.

    The SDLP has always stood by democratic principles and history has shown this way to be the path of progress. Shame it took SF a long while to learn that their ‘Brits are the baddies’ approach was never to go anywhere without the needless loss of life of many of their fellow country men.

    Sinn Fein’s U-Turn on the OTR issue has shown them to be politically inept in the political arena. They are the masters of self promotion. Nobody does it better. But self-praise is no praise. Rallies of your own people telling you you’re doing a good job, tells you nothing at all. The dim and impressionable people in society may buy in to it but that just puts progress on hold.

    the wider political dynamic in Ireland was the removal of violence which had placed a strangle hold on democracy, and it was put there by the Provos. They were the fuel to fire which was started by the British and while they were busy feathering their own nest, the British stood by and warmed their hands on the glow of their naivety.

  • mnob

    So SF are doing all they can to make sure that westminster doesnt control the 6 counties.

    Is that why they are playing the same perpetual opposition game as everyone else then ? They say they are opposed to the OTR legislation knowing it will go through anyway but they can claim innocence despite the fact they negotiated it in the first place.

  • Zorro

    Pat McLaren

    Let’s be clear about this.., SF were not on the ball on this issue and the British government got this passed them. In short, they didn’t have their eye on the ball.

    It was only after the British published their proposals that they realised, like everyone else, that the British had added the British Army and Police to the ‘On The Run’ legislation.

    Do you really believe this? Pat, why do you think they are called negotiations? SF were forced in to a U-turn because they took their eye off the ball. Martin McGuinness and SF tried to sell victims of collusion out in a dirty deal with the British. Martin McGuinness admitted as much. He defended the fact that the legislation applied to state killers, arguing that the people who would gain “most advantage from this are those nationalists and republicans who are on the run for over 30 years Sf knew what was included in the legislation. Martin McGuiness stated this. Conor Murphy flew to Westminster to welcome it and it was the SDLP that pointed it out to them.

  • Adams was a very visible presence at Westminster on the day of the second reading. I wonder at what particulr point in time did they all decide that they were against it. It can’t be due to new information about the legislation itself, that was already published two weeks before the second reading, it can only be knowledge/realisation that they were not going to get away with supporting it.

  • J Kelly

    Zorro this ‘we didn’t murder anyone’ thing and the constant we were good guys all along doesn’t really wash for two reasons. First the SDLP by their silence over many years against state violence and their unacceptance that collusion was in fact happening makes their current stance very weak. The very fact that John Kelly had problems with this legislation but was able to stand with Sinn Fein yesterday shows without doubt which party has stood by these families for decades.

    Secondly not everyone in the SDLP is so clean when it comes to the conflict. In a letter in the Derry Journal recently a long standing republican activist invited a former comrade who now plays a high role within the SDLP to either back Durkans stance that all republicans are criminals and go forward face the courts or tell Durkan to back off. If all the combatants to the conflict are to be exposed come the next election Mark Durkan may have to seek new advisors. It was a dirty war and few are clean.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Zorro,

    at the time of the publication of the British proposals the SDLP stated that they had to go back and revisit what was agreed at Weston Pk. Yes all those years after Weston Pk the SDLP had to go back and make sure what was agreed. It was only then that the ‘scheduled offences’ argument was put forward by the SDLP.

    Why did the SDLP not trumpet then their reading of the Weston Pk deal for years? Why did they not question SF on the deal week in week out? The answer is quite clear, like every one else they believed that the ‘On The Run’ legislation would apply to those actually on the run and not crown forces personnel. Makes you wonder at the law credentials of Alex and Alban.

    The British Government pulled a flanker on what happened at Weston Pk and the SDLP are trying to re-write history in stating that they knew this was the case all along. That is patently dishonest.
    What is perfectly clear is that there was an agreement between SF and The Britsh over ‘on the runs’. Not one statement by any party after Weston Park suggested that this would include Crown force personnel.

  • Ian

    “I take it this is, in part, an attempt by the Provos to try to switch the focus of the news agenda away from their infiltration by agents.”

    I disagree, because of the timescales involved. I reckon SF took the decision to withdraw support for the bill a few weeks ago (when the SDLP first got their teeth into the issue), but they had to first consult their OTR colleagues before announcing it. Such a consultation was inevitably going to take a while, what with the consultees all being in hiding across the globe.

    Danny Morrison’s Daily Ireland column from last Thursday (ie the day before Donaldson was exposed) hinted at a forthcoming SF volte face. (See also the correction at the end of Jude Collins’ Daily Ireland column from last Friday).

    “‘what is the difference between the victim of state violence and someone who is simply the victim of violence?’

    The SF/IRA position would appear to be that there is a difference. Apart from it and its supporters, I don’t think anyone else has adopted this position.”

    The British have adopted precisely this position, hence the murderers of Peter McBride were retained and promoted in the British Army.

  • Ian

    “Why did the SDLP not trumpet then their reading of the Weston Pk deal for years? Why did they not question SF on the deal week in week out?”

    Perhaps because rather than discussing some hypothetical future legislation, Durkan waited until it was printed in stark black-and-white before pouncing with devastating logic that succeeded in forcing SF into a U-turn?

    Bear in mind that the onus wasn’t on the SDLP to determine the precise detail of the Bill, the onus was on the party that negotiated for it.

    Another thing – how come IRA decommissioning was a pre-requisite for publication of the Bill, but loyalist decommissioning is an optional extra? I’ve yet to hear an explanation for that particular double standard (nor have I heard any outrage about it from Unionists or the Tories, naturally).

  • Zorro

    J Kelly

    In his 10:11am posting I think Bertie raises a very good point. Given that the legislation itself that was already published two weeks before the second reading, when did SF realise the change of heart on this issue?

    Your sad and sorry attempt to try and throw mud at the SDLP speaks volumes. The Provos crawled out of a treasonous cesspit of immorality, dirtying the name of Irish Republicanism for generations.

    I will not comment on hearsay. I don’t know the Derry Journal as a paper. I am guessing it is sponsored by sympathetic SF tendencies like many of the other nationalist orientated locals? I will say that of course, the SDLP have made mistakes. But I for one can’t help but think that if the people who decided to take it on themselves to blow up and murder their fellow countrymen had taken the SDLP approach then the cause of Irish Republicanism would much more greatly advanced.

    Too many Nationalist seem wilfully blind to SF spin.

    It was wrong of the SDLP not to shout louder than they did on some issues and sure, they could have done things much better in hindsight. But it is in a totally different league all together when, as an organisation, you decide to abduct a fellow country man, woman or child, remove them from their family, transport them to a forest and bury two bullets in the back of their neck! That’s not, never was and never will be what it means to be an Irish Republican. Give me the SDLP anytime!

  • “Another thing – how come IRA decommissioning was a pre-requisite for publication of the Bill, but loyalist decommissioning is an optional extra? I’ve yet to hear an explanation for that particular double standard (nor have I heard any outrage about it from Unionists or the Tories, naturally).”

    Why would we pick that out to be outraged about when we are outraged about the Bill in it’s entirety!

  • J Kelly

    You may take the SDLP every time but in reality the possibility of them delivering for republicans is nil.

    Too many nationalist seem willfully blind to SF spin. This statement is rather like the proud mother watching her son march and claim look its only our Johnny who is in time. Zorro have you ever thought that maybe the majority of nationalist voters are right and you are wrong. The simple fact of the matter since Mark Durkan has taken the reigns of the SDLP the have slid into a party that is obsessed with attacking Sinn Fein rather than promoting what they are about. Which in my opinion is the same thing they have nothing to offer but anti Sinn Fein and as we progress and Sinn Fein become a more potent force for change across this island the SDLP will become more and more irrelevant.

  • Zorro

    Sinn Fein are politically inept. They agreed to legislation that has to be one of worst pieces of legislation on Ireland ever proposed at Westminster and Gerry Adams negotiated this! It took the SDLP to point out to them that:

    It still covers state killers.

    It still allows loyalists to benefit without having decommissioned a single bullet or ended their activity.

    It still allows for no time limits to be set and so robs victims of any chance of truth. Killers can afford to sit back and see if the police come knocking on the door – knowing that if they do, they will still not face a day in prison.
    It still allows the Secretary of State to hide even the names of killers.

    It still allows drug dealers to benefit, so long as they were paying money over to paramilitaries.

    It still allows on the runs to come back – even though exiles can’t.

    It still does not give victims even the right to be informed that somebody has applied under this legislation.

    Despite their grandiose titles and their sycophantic rallies, Sinn Fein have shown themselves to be politically inept when negotiating and /or deceitful and disingenuous with the people they claim to represent.

  • TAFKABO

    As an outside observer, and a unionist, it is nice to see that Mark Durkans letter got through to Santa and that the SDLP finally have a set of balls.

  • Ian

    ” “Another thing – how come IRA decommissioning was a pre-requisite for publication of the Bill, but loyalist decommissioning is an optional extra? I’ve yet to hear an explanation for that particular double standard (nor have I heard any outrage about it from Unionists or the Tories, predictably).”

    Why would we pick that out to be outraged about when we are outraged about the Bill in it’s entirety! ”

    From this outside observer’s perspective, Unionists were far more outraged about the manner in which the IRA decommissioned their arms, than about the fact that loyalists continue to hold onto theirs (and continue to use them).

    The fact that not one senior Unionist picked up on the blatant double standards in the way that the Bill lets loyalists off the decommissioning hook (a fact which incidentally does no credit to Sinn Fein who negotiated the Bill), suggests that the continuing existence of loyalist groups is totally off the radar of Unionist concerns.

    Perhaps if this aspect of the Bill had even been mentioned by a single Unionist spokesperson, it might have gone some way towards dispelling the widely-held theory that Unionists are only ever concerned about republican paramilitarism, and only occasionally condemn loyalist terrorism when pushed, and even then in a qualified way.

  • J Kelly

    When will he get those balls out of the freezer and start delivering an accountable police service through the police board. Its easy to see why he impresses unionist because he wont rock the boat but will constantly attack Sinn Fein. Before you jump up and down thats politics i know but as a party you have to stand for something not just against your opponents.

  • TAFKABO

    Ian
    Thats fair criticism of the way unionist politicians have ignored the issue of amnesties for loyalists.You wont find this unionist diagreeing with you.

    J Kelly

    Say what you like about the SDLP, but they wren’t the people masquerading as a party that represents the people whilst walking over the people in order to get some legislation that helps no one but their firends in the IRA and other killers.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Perhaps because rather than discussing some hypothetical future legislation, Durkan waited until it was printed in stark black-and-white before pouncing with devastating logic that succeeded in forcing SF into a U-turn?’

    So we are agreed that no one knew what was in the legislation until it was printed in black and white (except those drawing it up) and the SDLP contention that they were aware of the outplaying of the Weston Pk agreement re covering all scheduled offences is in fact untrue.

  • Ian

    “So we are agreed that no one knew what was in the legislation until it was printed in black and white (except those drawing it up) and the SDLP contention that they were aware of the outplaying of the Weston Pk agreement re covering all scheduled offences is in fact untrue.”

    Obviously no-one knew for sure, but anyone could have suspected what was to come. Tactically though, would it have been better for Durkan to get bogged down in theoretical arguments about what the provisions of the Bill might be, before it’s actually published – especially when such contentious debate might have frightened the horses and put up another obstacle to persuading the IRA to decommission. They’ve done it now, it can’t be undone, and I suspect Republicans are feeling a little sore that they didn’t get their OTR cake all for themselves and they have to share it with others…

    (For what it’s worth, my reading of the Joint Declaration at the time was that it might end up covering security force members, which I thought fair enough as long as they are statutorily barred from future service in the armed forces – the other side of the coin to ‘no ex-prisoners in the PSNI’ – I don’t want murderers and colluders such as the McBride killers or Colonel K acting in my name. However, there is no such provision in the Bill to ‘root out bad apples’ from the armed forces, which strengthens the feeling that the Bill is primarily about the British establishment ‘looking after their own’.)

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Obviously no-one knew for sure, but anyone could have suspected what was to come.’

    Strange then that not one political party; not one political commentator or columnist wanted to aire their suspicions. Goodness not even one contributor to Slugger suspected this might happen.

    ‘Tactically though, would it have been better for Durkan to get bogged down in theoretical arguments about what the provisions of the Bill might be, before it’s actually published’

    We are being asked by SDLP supporters and members to believe that they sat on this goldmine of political information for several years despite being trounced in a number of intervening elections. Come off it, no one saw this coming.

  • Ian

    my objections to the bill are because it grants an amnesty to murderers. I see no reason to secify the types of murderers because the fact that it lets of any is enough for me. Why would I want to get the issue sidetracked off the central one of justice?

  • Zorro

    J Kelly

    ”You may take the SDLP every time but in reality the possibility of them delivering for republicans is nil”

    I suppose that is unlike the Sinn Fein? And despite the OTR farce Sinn Fein won from the British government!

    People are defined by word and /i>deed. I can say I support the Greens but if I don’t recycle, if I am not energy efficient and all the other things the Greens do then am I really a Green supporter? Clearly not.

    And so it is with Sinn Fein and the Provos. They call themselves Republicans but do their deeds back this up? Clearly not.

    The fact that you chose to ignore the last paragraph of my 11:11am posting leads me conclude you already know this.

  • Ian

    “We are being asked by SDLP supporters and members to believe that they sat on this goldmine of political information for several years despite being trounced in a number of intervening elections. Come off it, no one saw this coming.”

    I personally, as an outside observer of the peace process, thought it inconceivable that the British WOULDN’T make provision to include the security forces in the amnesty. I assumed that all parties had suspected the same! (it seems I was wrong!)

    When the Bill was published I thought that the angle that Durkan et al might go for would be to try to amalgamate the bill with the Private Members Bill that he’s supporting, arising out of the McBride campaign, which would create a statutory bar on convicted murderers serving in the British Army. It would be a logical next step to amend it so that anyone who avails themselves of the Special License under the Offences Bill, should also have to seek alternative employment. (Suppose a serving PSNI member applies for one of these get-out-of-jail-free cards, it would hardly engender confidence in the new police service if they continued in their post now would it?)

    But is anybody really that shocked about the inclusion of the armed forces in the bill? If dealing with OTR’s is about drawing a line in the sand and moving on, then how could it be applied other than across the board (including also for the OTR’s arising from the McCabe case – Ahern and McDowell take note).

    Are Republicans really taking a head-counting approach? i.e. Republicans were historically far more likely to be convicted and imprisoned than security force members (because of the inherent bias in the criminal justice system), and therefore only the former should benefit from an amnesty until the numbers have evened up a bit??

  • Ian

    Bertie:

    “my objections to the bill are because it grants an amnesty to murderers. I see no reason to secify the types of murderers because the fact that it lets of any is enough for me. Why would I want to get the issue sidetracked off the central one of justice?”

    I can’t speak for you personally but prior to the Bill’s publication a number of Unionist and Tory MP’s were angling for the very same extension of the Bill’s provisions to security force members that the Government has now included in the Bill. (Check Hansard for previous NI Question Times). That doesn’t sit well with a ‘justice for all’ approach regardless of the status of the perpretrator.

  • Ian

    Can you give me a specific link. I find Hansard pretty inpenetratable.

  • Ian

    Me:

    “perpretrator”

    Bertie:

    “inpenetratable”

    We’re both being a bit over-generous with our consonants, aren’t we? Must be the Christmas spirit.

    With regards to Hansard link, I’d have to do a bit of digging myself to find the exact quotes. I’m going largely by memory, so I can’t remember exactly who out of the Unionist MPs made the suggestion (although Burnside and Donaldson spring to mind for some reason). I distinctly remember the Tory spokesman at the time (Quentin Davies?) making the suggestion only to be rebuffed by the Secretary of State (Reid/Murphy/Hain, possibly more than once as I think the the Tories raised the possibility several times – they were quite set on the idea) SoS said something along the lines of “I don’t think the armed forces would take kindly to being treated as equivalent to terrorists”.

    The reason I remember that exchange is because I was quite surprised to find the roles had totally reversed last month, i.e. the SoS proposed that security force members be included, and Tory spokesman on NI affairs was apoplectic about the ‘moral equivalence’ being drawn between the British army and the IRA (even though it was their idea in the first place).

  • Ian

    Another example of the PM’s disingeuity (from BBC News):

    Mr Blair said: “The reason we are doing on-the-runs is perfectly simple.

    “It is because it is difficult to justify a situation where you have people who were convicted of serious crimes, but as part of the Good Friday Agreement they committed those crimes before April 1998 and they walk free.

    “It is very difficult in those circumstances to say that people who were not convicted, but may be charged if they come back in the jurisdiction, should then go to prison for the full term.”

    BUT… they wouldn’t serve the full term would they? Only the balance of their remaining sentence (including time spent on remand) UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 2 YEARS.

    The spin’s getting even shoddier in the twilight months of his premiership.

  • Brian

    No deal if the noble IRA (and INLA) Volunteers are included in British legislation that will also include Unionist filthy sectarian murerers and British soldiers who are guilty of slaughtering Irish people in both the occupied zone and the Free State. We want all Irish Volunteers (AKA OTRs) to come home and we will. But we will not abide by any sleazy attempt to include the Orange slime and British soldiers who slaughtered so many innocent people. Sin é!
    There is no comparison between those who fought for Ireland and the rotten Orange settlers and occupying force who remain in Ireland. Period!

  • Is Brian for real?

  • martin ingram

    Brian,

    You remind me of the Japenese soldiers still willing to fight after ten years stuck in the jungle after the world war 2 had finished.

    Brian if you have been stuck in a jungle for the last few years, have you not heard the IRA has given up its weapons( If you believe them) and Sinn Fein is more than willing to administer British rule in the North in return for payment.

    The South have given up any territorial claims to the North ( Can you believe it) and the IRA have promised to stop killing people, robbing banks, and Raping . A new world beckons.

    The OTR bill is nothing more than a seedy deal between Gerry and his mates in the MOD to allow those few soldiers and policemen who did break the law to get off scot free. The thought that a criminal did not even need attend a court hearing to be allowed a pardon is sick and is a real kick in the teeth for the many victims on all sides. I agree we must have a means of bringing closure to this conflict.Any deal should be time limited and under oath that you are telling the truth. Any staement made found by events to be untrue will without any further delay would reward you with quality jail time.

    Brian. The Ireland you want is a long way off mate , if I was you I would get back into the Jungle quick and start filling in your application form for the PSNI .

    If you cant beat em join em

  • Ian

    re the consonants, I just can’t spell at any time of year 🙁

    Re the issues of different parties coming at the otr issue through a different set of victims. I haven’t looked through Hansard but as things are at the moment the Tories and Unionists etc. have focused on victims of IRA terrorism, but they have also made it clear that “loyalist” terrorists should pay for their crimes too and without accepting any equivalence between the army/police and SF/IRA/UVF/PUP etc have also said that if any members of the police or army have broken the law that they should be accountable to it. The SDLP appear to have focused on what they call “collusion” victims but, again, they have also made it clear that even if the police and army are excluded they still oppose the bill. Different victims groupings and parties have different mutual comfort zones. That may in some ways be unfortunate but I don’t think that it has been a major problem here. SF/IRA would appear to be the inconsistant ones. (I am not aware of the UVF/PUP/UDP/UDA stance and don’t really care)