SDLP: Judgement arises from a ‘culture of side deals’…

Patricia Lewsley sees wider implications for the High Court’s judgement that Peter Hain was in breach of the Ministerial Code of Practice:

Today’s ruling is a big and welcome setback for the culture of side deals that has bedevilled the process for so long. The appointment was unfair to victims and placed the interim Victims Commissioner in a very difficult position. The SDLP’s problem was never with Bertha McDougall – rather with the nature of her appointment. The Secretary of State and the DUP must have realised the position this would have placed her in yet for political expediency they carried on with their plans. Using victims and survivors needs and rights as political pawns should never have happened. It should not be allowed to happen again.”

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  • Comrade Stalin

    The SDLP were pioneers of the side deal, whenever they were the largest nationalist party. John Hume would get the key decision makers together and they would all go off into a corner to organize a wee deal out of earshot of everyone else.

  • True Blue

    I agree with CS hasn’t P Lewsley a cheek but that is what we expect from the SDLP nowadays, just because they are no longer in the position to do deals they are crying in their soup. Other are now in that position, come on SDLP, if it was good enough for the SDLP ie. John Hume and then Mark Durkan then it’s good enough for others now.

  • CS and TB-

    Can you name for me an occasion when the SDLP got someone appointed to a position such as this, one which by its very definition requires absolute impartiality and transparency? I notice neither of you seem too fazed by what Hain and the British Government did, but prefer to snipe from the sidelines. Grow up.

    Getting back to the issue in question- Hain must now come clean and reveal exactly what the appointment of Mrs. McDougal involved, otherwise he must resign.

    Political parties here are required by law to be transparent with their finances (to the extent which said law can practicably go). And rightly so. Yet the British Government which passed the aforementioned law took it upon itself to appoint a person to a £50k a year job, but in so doing displayed absolutely no transparency or accountability.

    Employers here are required to adhere to employment and equality legislation. And rightly so. The recruitment of a Victims’ Commissioner should have been equality-proofed to the highest standards given its importance and sensitivity, yet the British Government made its appointment paying no regard to the employment and equality rules which it expects everyone else to adhere to.

    This is unacceptable.

    The side-dealing of Hain- which in effect resulted in an appointment based not on what Mrs. McDougal is, but rather who she knows (as evidenced by the DUP claiming it as a victory)- harks back the worst abuses of democratic norms under the old Stormont Regime.

    It seems that the ideals of Basil Brooke survive him- anyone who believes in equality and fairness must oppose this.

    The side-dealing of Hain- which in effect resulted in an appointment based not on what Mrs. McDougal is, but rather who she knows (as evidenced by the DUP claiming it as a victory)- harks back the worst abuses of fair employment norms under the old Stormont Regime.

    It seems that the ideals of Basil Brooke survive him- anyone who believes in equality and fairness must oppose this.

  • Apologies for the repetition of the last two paras there…

  • Doreen Thompson

    Would everyone here just think for one moment of one other woman who was appointed to a quango: Monica McWilliams.

    I never remember anyone asking me about that appointment. Yet I never went to the courts over it, and as the niece of the late Charles Haughey, she is not exactly without very serious political baggage.

    Mrs McDougall does not have baggage like that. Like too too many others she too is a victim, and a survivor.

  • miss fitz

    Ah yes Doreen, she is a victim and a survivor. The issue and difficulty is that she only believes in the victim status for one side of the community, and refuses to acknowledge the legitmacy of victims of state violence and collusion.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Can you name for me an occasion when the SDLP got someone appointed to a position such as this, one which by its very definition requires absolute impartiality and transparency?

    El Mat, let’s be sensible here. The way the process is being worked out at the moment is a way that the SDLP were entirely happy with – when they had a finger in the cake. I remember their cosy chats with the Irish government, British government and UUP – with everyone else shut out – all too well. It’s a damn shame that the SDLP weren’t standing up for inclusivity and impartiality back in the days when they would have been able to make a difference.

    What we need is a proper all party talks process.

  • I concur with Comrade Stalin. Until very recently Dirty deals, back-door deals, side door deals and back room deals were undoubtably being done by the SDLP. Not having the political clout is one thing but whinging and wailing is now becomming the trademark of the former majotity Nationalist/Republican party. Perhaps this explains why over one third of its vote now prefers to stay at home or vote for alternatives.

  • Again CS- can you name me an incident when the SDLP sought the circumvention of the norms of recruitment to get someone appointed to such a senior role?

    As regards cosy chats- political parties are entitled to chat to whoever they choose, and no one is denying that right, regardless of who is in the ascendency. The problem comes when those chats result in debacles such as we saw with the appointment of Mrs. McDougall at the behest of the DUP. Plus, if cosy chats bring peace, as Hume-Adams did, then I don’t see the problem- again, this was for the greater good, rather than for partisan self-interest. To equate talks which brought about peace and stability in the 1990s with latter-day dirty side-deals is wholly inaccurate and disingenuous.

  • mark

    I’ve mentioned it before, I’ll mention it again.

    If Bertha’s appointment is considered dubious can her report on the future remit and role of the Victims Commission be considered any less dubious?

    Her report is due to be published soon, just before her year in office expires, will this report be binned?

    Should it be released or given any credibility at all?

    Can she define the remit of a role she shouldn’t have been appointed to?

    Back to the drawing board?

  • exuup

    miss fitz- the issue and difficulty is that she only believes in the victim status for one side of the community,

    Ill think you ll find she belives victim status for EVERYONE murdered or injured by terrorits from either side –

    so please none of your bigotry here please fitz

  • miss fitz

    This is not bigotry UUP, but a subject well covered here in the past and a matter of public record. It started with Bloomfield who created the notion of a hierarchy of vicitms and has continued since then. Accomodation here will only come with the full acceptance that there are 2 perspectives to our story and one side should not dominate.

    Can you elucidate a little on your charge of bigotry?

  • exuup

    fitz, terrorits killed or injured are NOT VICTIMS and neither are theire families,,,in fact their skum who got their just rewards

  • bertie

    “and refuses to acknowledge the legitmacy of victims of state violence and collusion”

    Where has she said this?

    Where is it a matter of public record?

  • miss fitz

    Bertie
    It goes back to the time of her appointment and her refusal to recognise the victims of collusion. At the time, she said that there was a definition for victim, which was the Bloomfield definition which of course completely tuled out state victims

  • bertie

    Misfitz

    What exactly is the Bloomfield definition and what exactly did she say about it?

  • miss fitz

    Is your google broken?

  • miss fitz

    We Will Remember Them: Sir Kenneth Bloomfield

    http://www.nio.gov.uk/bloomfield_report.pdf

  • bertie

    no

    I am not the one making the allegation.

    Besides what do I search on that gives me the answer about what Bertha mc dougal has said about the defintion.

  • mark

    Why two stories on this? Especially when one is just another lazy Lewsley press release?

    To repeat:

    I know from Bertha’s own mouth, she presented DUP type arguments on sectarian headcounts for funding distribution to the European Commission when asking for monetary support but didn’t present the more broadly supported alternative arguments based on meeting need or promoting reconciliation and truth.

    She is a very nice woman and talks very freely.

    I don’t see how a discredited political appointee nominated by the DUP who fronted their arguments to the neglect of others can present a credible basis for the future remit of the Commission in her forthcoming report.

  • bertie

    I can find no other defintionof victim in the livk you gave apart from something about surviving injured and those who care from them and the bereaved.

  • Nevin

    Bertie, these quotes from the Bloomfield report appears to be fairly neutral:

    “Nevertheless, this Commission must aim its effort at a coherent and manageable target group. These I define as the surviving injured and those who care for them, together with those close relatives who mourn their dead.”;

    “Third, I believe the interests of victims would be better served by the creation of a collective voice, in the form of a Standing Conference of Organisations Supporting the Victims of Violence. This may not be easy to achieve, given the sensitivities of particular categories of victim, but I believe some such step is required to raise the profile of the entire issue.”

    He also made the point that it would be unfair for the victims to receive lesser consideration than the prisoners and ex-prisoners.

  • exuupp

    [Play the ball! – edited moderator]

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    She makes an interesting point that I’ve not heard made elsewhere. It is certainly worthy of note, if not lengthy discussion.

  • exuupp

    why was my last post deleted. If read carefully i did not play anyone – it was entirely conditional on republican trolls advocating there murderous ilk as victims

  • bertie

    Nevin

    thanks

    I am still in the dark as to the basis for Misfitz’s allegations.

  • Overhere

    And that Bertie is the problenm with N. Ireland you are all sitting in your own wee dark cell afraid to strike a match and get some light !!

  • DK

    MF: “the Bloomfield definition which of course completely tuled out state victims”

    Where in that Bloomfield report does it suggest a hierarcy of victims? It is 70 pages long, so I went to the summary which suggests a memorial of all victims whether RUC, UDA, UVF or IRA. There are a lot of suggestions, including some that are security force specific – so I assume that it is cherry-picking those aspects that people are using to discredit the report? Or is it because he’s a brit.

  • IJP

    Is it not a bit daft of the SDLP to say “yes, yes, yes” (as its Deputy Leader did last night) to a deal about which they do not know any of the details?

  • Nevin

    Bertie, perhaps Miss Fitz could post a quote from the report which either confirms her allegation or which contradicts/nullifies the quotes I’ve posted.

  • sean

    I think Comrade Stalin’s troll like entries are symptomatic of the frustration the Shinners are experiencing at the moment. It can be no easy task trying to convince the bhoys to support the PSNI. There is a huge difference between trying to get someone into public office and trying to get someone to stop blowing up, abducting and/or murdering their fellow countrymen.

    This is a very weak retort from the Shinners and it looks as though the SDLP have them on the back foot, again.

  • miss fitz

    This is the relevant part of the report which has given rise to the feeling of some that the Bloomfield Report first introduced this notion of the hierarchy of victims, or in other words the worthiness of some victims over others.

    ”Many people feel strongly that any person engaged in unlawful activity who is killed or injured in pursuit of it a victim only of his own criminality and deserves no recognition for it.”

    I should point our that Mrs McDougall has been very fair and impartial in her tenure as VC, and has been out and about with victims groups of all hues and persuasions. It would not be accurate to reflect how she feels about the issues now until her report has been published and until a more clear idea emerges of her recommendations.

    I take Mark’s point that the Report may not even be published depending on the nature of any future legal action and outcomes on the appointment. What a pity if the whole process has to start again, and if it does what of the Victims Forum that is expected to be established?

    As can be seen from comments even here, there are great differences between people in their view and perception of victim/terrorist/perpetrator. That remains one of the great challenges for the moment at least

  • bertie

    miss fitz

    The Bloomfield Report did not introduce the hierarchy of victims. It has always been with us and I hope always will.

    “’Many people feel strongly that any person engaged in unlawful activity who is killed or injured in pursuit of it a victim only of his own criminality and deserves no recognition for it.’’

    Which is NOT the same as saying that he or anyone else doesn’t recognise the victims of any particular organisation, including the legitimate state forces, acting within the law or otherwise. This relates to the status of the victim (i.e. innocent or guilty). It does not relate to the status of the killers, which was the substance of your allegation.

    The hierachy of victims is not dependant on who they are victims of.

  • Blefescu

    Going back to the start of this thread, perhaps Comrade Stalin could give us some examples of the side-deals which the SDLP/John Hume made. The reality is that, to their electoral cost, the SDLP were too fixated in trying to solve the problem rather than systematically pursuing their own self-interest in their side-deals, as Sinn Fein has consistently done.

    Adams has jettisoned every “principle” that SF supposedly ever stood for. He has turned his support base inside-out and, maybe he deserves some credit for this, has anaesthetised physical force nationalism. It’s pretty hard to know what the Sinn Fein version of “republicanism” means any more.