Some hurdles of his own..

While some continue to prefer to see any examination of the grey areas as an attempt to erect new hurdles for Sinn Féin, reports today indicate that as Gerry Adams prepares for tea at Chequers with Tony Blair he may have in mind a couple of hurdles of his own. First up is a renewed attempt to broach the subject of fugitives from justice, aka On-The-Runs. A topic that Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain was forced to withdraw from parliament after defending the proposals in print.. and after his own moral compass was questioned [not for the first or last time – Ed]. Additionally Adams, once again, slips in the ‘c’ word in regards to his comments on policing – control, ie a step beyond accountability.It’s also worth recalling Peter Hain’s comments on the OTR issue, from January this year. If it’s included in any resulting package of proposals we will, no doubt, be required to once again ignore the grey areas.

“The Government could have proceeded with this Bill when the issue was first raised seven years ago. We could have done so when the Joint Declaration was made in 2003. But we did not because the IRA had not delivered on its promise to end its war. We waited until that happened.[Just a thought, but if that was the case then, why the renewed declaration now?]

“Every Northern Ireland Party vigorously opposed the Bill, bar Sinn Fein. Now Sinn Fein is opposed because they refused to accept that this legislation should apply to members of the security forces charged with terrorism-related offences.

“Mr Speaker, to exclude any members of the security forces who might have been involved in such offences from the provisions of the Bill would not only have been illogical, it would have been indefensible and we would not do it. Closure on the past cannot be one-sided.

That was, and is, non-negotiable.”[added emphasis]

The comments by Adams on policing are also worth looking at more closely

Asked about Sinn Fein’s position on policing, he said: “Sinn Fein is for law and order, we are for social justice, we are for decent, accountable civic-controlled policing. Let’s get that and then let’s move forward.”

However debatable that assertion may be, accountable policing is not the same as civic-controlled policing, not least when that control is to be exercised by party-political representatives.

Accountablility is part of assessing the performance of the police, but the police must also have operational independence, otherwise the very issues contained in those grey areas become potential conflicts of interest where there is a danger, and the opportunity, for accountability to take second place to party-political expediency.

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  • joeCanuck

    Pete

    Hard to disagree with that. A police force must be accountable but not under civilian “control”. Accountable operational freedom should be essential.
    Unfortunately as we know (for example the Stevens inquiry), politicians do seem able to circumvent that operational independence.
    As I mentioned on another thread of yours, I firmly believe that a lot of embarrassing stuff will eventually be brushed under the carpet. The OTRs will come home in a deal that also allows freedom from prosecution for government operatives who killed or colluded.
    Personally, I think that should only go in hand with an admission of guilt. Truth and Reconciliation Commission? But that’s probably too optimistic.

  • Ah, there it is, just when the DUP thought they had been outfoxed by all the other parties, Nigel Dodds breathes new life into the DUP never, never, never campaign.

    Mr Dodds, declares that there will never, never, never, be a deal if the “on the runs” are allowed home.

    Phew, that was a close one!

  • Greenflag

    ‘Mr Dodds, declares that there will never, never, never, be a deal if the “on the runs” are allowed home.’

    Good man Dodds . Somebody buy that man a drink . Another case of snatching defeat out of the jaws of defeat . Dodds is staking a claim for the leadership.

    Aren’t the men of principle wonderful all the same .

    Where would Northern Ireland be without them ? The person who said in the early 21st century is getting close 🙁

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    What’s missing from your view is this.

    Setting up clear parameters for, and divisions between, operational independence and accountability means that when one of those party political representatives attempts to interfere in operational matters then there can be clear judicial sanctions in place to take action against them.

    That, of course, may require other elements to be in place – such as a culture in which the public understand how corrupting such activities are to society as a whole, and a culture of investigative journalism to expose, if necessary, such attempted interference.

    The absence of such a culture, or cultures, does not prevent the continuing highlighting of those grey areas – especially not when they are part of a work in progress… in fact it should demand it.

    I don’t expect such attempts at interference in police operations to ever be completely prevented. But it is important to restrict them as much as possible and to prosecute fully those who do attempt to interfere.

  • joeCanuck

    Pete

    I totally agree with everything you just said. But, as I said, I’m somewhat cynical about political shenanigans.
    And, yes, all democratic societies need a strong culture of investigative journalism to uncover those shenanigans when they do occur. And, when necessary, feet should be held to the fire.
    Although I’m sometimes cynical, by nature I’m an optimist. I think the old RUC were quite amenable to taking instructions from various home affairs ministers but I think that is behind us now and huge strides have been made in developing a police service essentially free from such interference.
    The future looks a lot brighter.