“They have decided we should only deal with the future.”

This is definitely one to watch carefully as it develops, the Chief Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams is furious. And rightly so. According to the PA report, the NIO has confirmed that the previously announced legislation to enable the HRC to investigate allegations of abuses of human rights here, which grants the Commission new powers to compel evidence and witnesses, will set August 1 2007 as the date at which an allegation can be investigated using those powers. Leaving any allegations of human rights abuses before that date, in effect, out of bounds.From the PA report

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Monica McWilliams was furious after it emerged the latest draft of the government`s Justice and Security Bill would prevent the body from investigating cases before August 1 2007.

However the commission was also concerned the legislation would stymie future investigations into alleged abuses which surface in the future if the documentation relating to the cases dated before August 1.

Mrs McWilliams said: “The commission is shocked by what the government is proposing.

“They have decided we should only deal with the future. We will not be able to investigate human rights issues to do with the past.

“What this effectively means is that we would not be able to look into human rights issues relating to collusion.

“What is even more alarming is that it will also affect future investigations. We would not be able to compel documentation on a future case if it dated before August 1.”

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  • Looks like the Danegeld is being handed out, hope there is enough to go around.

    My case for the sectarian tax demand of the Murphy family to be withdrawn has its roots in these kind of side deals that will become more apparent over the coming months.

    Looking to the future in Ireland may indeed compel the govt to take this kind of action, but if so, then be consistant, equality of Danegeld is key if the the deisre is to airbrush history.

  • P O’Neil

    Seems to me the Brits are running scared. First the Steven’s Report (not forgetting the Cory and Baron reports), then the fudged Enquiries Act 2005, now the O’Loan report, and apparently with plenty more to follow. Just as slowly as the truth is dripping out, Brit fingers seem to be plugging the holes and pre-emptively reinforcing the barricades before the dam finally breaks. No matter how far they run or deep they try to bury the truth, in due course the truth will come out. When that finally happens, the British position here will be untenable and they can calmly and quietly make their way to the nearest port…..

  • brendan,belfast

    sounds to me like the indignance displayed by Monica is more down to her not getting the kind of angelic coverage bestowed upon Nuala O’Loan – the effective and energetic Commissioner. Its all very well for McWilliams to go nuts on this issue because it affects HER. where was she during the debate on CRJ? On the human rights violations of paramiliataries to the present day.

  • Way Icit

    Pity Monica was not as furious about abortion – the killing of the most vulnerable and defenceless members of our society.

    Get your priorities right Monica!

  • realist

    Another attempt at legalising cover-ups or what?

  • aquifer

    Lets not play games here. Our rights to free speech, movement, assembly etc are conditional on doing nothing that offends our paramilitary nannies. If we can get them all suppressed or disbanded before August 2007 that’t do fine. Never mind the past. It stank, of hypocrisy mostly.

  • Now for a bit of hardball.

    Ok the Govt has given August 1st 2007 as a date.

    Any ill gotten gains before this date can be declared lawfully and allowed to be moved into the legitimate economy.

    Any Tax due on these monies must also be waived.

    Any political crimes comitted before August 1st 2007 must also be erased.

    If amnesty is is fit for the Goose it is fit for the Gander.

    Oh, what a wonderful vacuous world we live in.

    2007, the world of Avarice.

  • Rory

    Ar least it’s good to be forewarned. I shall now try and get in as much abuse as possible by the end of July.

    These people just don’t appreciate that abusing people causes stress as well, you know. And setting tight deadlines doesn’t help.

    What about the rights of the abusers, hey?

  • What about the rights of the abusers, hey?

    That is what I am trying to address?

    I would have set the date as January 1st 2007, unless there is something that has or is about to happen the the Brits are afraid of?

    Do they know something is going to happen, not another killing, a leading political figure?

  • Rory

    I should very much hope that this will set a legal precedent.

    I have been making very much the same point to multiple credit card providers for some time now.

    “Look”, I argue,” let’s simply draw a line under the past. Let’s just instead have the confidence in each other to know that the new (and greatly increased) credit limit, which you will of course extend from tomorrow, will be meticulously observed by all parties. We can have that confidence in each other, can’t we?”

    I am all in favour of the endless benefits of the extension of goodwill.

  • In politics it is called Pork, earmarks.

  • Pete Baker

    “I am all in favour of the endless benefits of the extension of goodwill.”

    You may be in favour of that, Rory.

    But some of us want responsibility to result in accountability – across the board.

  • aisling?

    People should read through the Justice and Security Bill which started its course through Westminster three weeks after St Andrews – which should have indicated to Adams and co, the duplicity of the British. Read a few of the clauses below and wonder why the NIHRC is shocked

    (2) The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland may issue a certificate
    that any trial on indictment of the defendant (and of any person committed for trial with the defendant) is to be conducted without a jury if—
    (a) he suspects that any of the following conditions is met, and
    (b) he is satisfied that in view of this there is a risk that the administration
    of justice might be impaired if the trial were to be conducted with a jury.
    (3) Condition 1 is that the defendant—
    (a) is, or has at any time been, a member of a proscribed organisation (see subsection (9)), or
    (b) is an associate (see subsection (10)) of a person who is, or has at any
    time been, a member of a proscribed organisation.

    When you read on it states:
    (10) For the purposes of this section a person (A) is the associate of another person (B) if—
    (a) A is the spouse or a former spouse of B,
    (b) A is the civil partner or a former civil partner of B,
    (c) A and B (whether of different sexes or the same sex) live as partners, or have lived as partners, in an enduring family relationship,
    (d) A is a friend of B, or
    (e) A is a relative of B.

    So much for deleting ex-prisoners records (an SF demand), instead the Brits are criminalising the friends and families of ex-prisoners.

    But human rights protection will prevent this, I hear you say. The answer is no as under Section 7 of the same Act (Limitation on challenge of issue of certificate)
    (1) No court may entertain proceedings for questioning (whether by way of judicial review or otherwise) any decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland in relation to the issue of a certificate under section 1.

    Add to that increased powers of search, arrest and seizure under this “normal law” which go beyond PACE for the peelers which were previously only available through “anti-terrorist laws” and the fact that this same act allows that similar powers be given to the British Army which previously were only available under “anti-terrorist laws” (when the SF is seeking demilitarisation), is it any wonder the NIHRC is kicking up. Clearly, the SF leadership have their members and supporters a pig in a poke (quite literally)!

  • Cynic

    It’s disgusting.

    What about all those poor lawyers now denied the opportunity to make a million or two in endless tribunals / hearings / enquiries? What with the end of 11+ / grammar shools meaning they will have to pay for their children’s education, Gordon Brown hiking taxes on flights to St Moritz and now this, how will they feed their kids?

    It’s truly shocking. They will be choking on their cornflakes on the Malone Road when this gets out.

  • Animus

    Another attempt by the NIO to cripple the reach of the Human Rights Commission and the development of a culture of rights within Northern Ireland. Not surprising.

    Way Icit – why not keep to the topic? I don’t recall reading anything in the post about the rights of embryos (not being people, so not really members of society, but nice try)

  • brendan,belfast

    are you denying Way Icit his human right to go off topic? you’d better watch that stuff after 1st August. Monica McUseless will be out to get you.

  • fair_deal

    Hain has said that how to examine the conflict is one of the outstanding issues between the parties and the communities.

    The present selective approach of four inquiries and the occssional Police Ombudsman investigation isn’t providing s full and complete picture of the conflict neither would the NIHRC adding a few more investigations.

    So there is a rationale for this decision beyond conspiracy. It is up to the parties and communities to hammer out how we are going to examine the conflict.

  • Alan

    But this effectively muzzles all investigations. As Monica has suggested in the article, this would even prevent the NIHRC gaining information on the Muckamore case in advance of going to court.

    Concentrating on the wicked issue of collusion serves no-one bar the guilty. This is mummy dabbing her hanky on the face of a very dirty body politic.

  • lib2016

    With the local forces being made the scapegoats for HM Government and it’s dirty war the inevitable inquiries have to closely limited. Why is anyone surprised at the working out of a policy which has been clear for some considerable time?

    Any RUC pensioner who speaks out of turn can be pressurised but you can’t run a coverup just on kicks and threats. There has to be the promise of a ‘stay-out-of-jail’ card for the perpetrators as well, plus good jobs for the guys with really bad memories as we’ve seen recently.

  • cynic

    “The present selective approach of four inquiries and the occssional Police Ombudsman investigation isn’t providing s full and complete picture of the conflict neither would the NIHRC adding a few more investigations.”

    I agree completely, fair_deal. Keep pushing it and we might end up with half the Government Ministers under investigation for one thing or another.

    Any NIHRC investigations would be completely unfair anyway. Terrorists don’t owe rights to anyone so NIHRC would de facto almost always end up investigating only the state’s agencies for either abusing rights or failing to protect them! Equality? Fairness?

    We need to get to the point where we stop picking at the scabs of history. It does no-one any good – sadly, not even those who have lost loved ones, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstances.

  • P O’Neil

    What is needed is for the truth, the full truth and not the santised version being peddled by the Brits and their apologists, has to be uncovered. The Brits have to face up to their actions, and the ensuing consequences. All the dirty little details of their terrorist campaign against the Irish people has to be crammed down British throats. Once this is achieved, then they can all fuck off back home.

  • Rory

    “But some of us want responsibility to result in accountability – across the board.”

    Indeed, Pete. I understand that fully but so, I trust, do those that demand it.

    Full accountability across the board is a pious wish that is impossible of fulfillment this side of Judgement Day, and any mature being will understand that. Indeed any failed, pretentious attempt to deliver that full acountability will only serve to prolong the pain and stew the rancour and resentment.

    Better to draw the line and move on. Jesus of Nazareth said, “Let the dead bury the dead”. I think for ongoing hope, trust and love we might consider that.

  • parcifal

    rory,
    if we can arrive at an agreed and shared narrative of the past, we can put the past away; other than that I think you’re spot on

  • Briso

    Posted by cynic on Feb 03, 2007 @ 02:51 PM

    >Any NIHRC investigations would be completely
    >unfair anyway. Terrorists don’t owe rights to
    >anyone so NIHRC would de facto almost always end
    >up investigating only the state’s agencies for
    >either abusing rights or failing to protect
    >them! Equality? Fairness?

    This is my opinion too, except from a different perspective. The narrative of the troubles on television and newspapers was that the brave and noble forces of law and order were dealing with the murdering scumbags of the IRA, UVF, UDA etc. in an efficient and evenhanded way. No doubt, this narrative has lost much of it’s credibility, but there are many who think the depths of the slime the British, Army and RUC waded into are far geater than has been imagined up to now.

    So, the IRA? We know what they did, all the atrocities they carried out. We know Martin McGuinness was a member. We know that the whole leadership of Sinn Fein before 1997 (most of whom are still in place) regularly supported and glorified the acts of the IRA. Even if they weren’t all ‘active’ volunteers, I see no moral separation between the guy who tied up Patsy Gillespie and put him in a car full of explosives and the guy who gave political cover. More to the point, neither do they!!! No bad apple defence there. They mightn’t agree they were bad, but they were all in it together. Either you think they murdered rings round them or they bravely executed the enemies of Ireland, carried out operations to cause economic damage to the British state in which there was inevitable but regrettable collateral damage and dealt appropriately with informers and colluders. The facts aren’t in question though. So what would be the purpose of an enquiry into the IRA, apart from the commendable job done by the historical enquiries team which is trying to bring some measure of justice to the families of their victims? Ingram says that such an enquiry will prove that various high ranking members of the IRA and Sinn Fein were working for the British to bring the IRA’s campaign to a halt, basically they were traitors to the Republican cause. Is this supposed to be defamatory? Let’s say he’s right, in whose interest is such an investigation? Ruari O’Bradaigh?

  • Rory

    I am not at all confident, Parcifal, that we can “arrive at an agreed and shared narrative of the past”. Nor do I think it is all that important that we do. Indeed I do not think that it is even desirable.

    Any narrative, at least if it is honest, will be subjective, and not at all necessarily “correct” or “true” in any objective sense. But in will be, by the very nature of its own subjectivity, more “true” or at least more revealing than any dour academic hack might render.

    The good writers of history recognise this, take Cecil Woodham-Smith’s account of the Charge of the Light Brigade or John Prebble’s account of Culloden. It is by showing us the recollection of many conflicting witnesses that we are able to “see” more clearly.

    Let us allow each their own narrative and share the other’s. The future need not be anodyne. I should hope that the joy of fierce argument of history will continue – but this time, as in a Tombstone bar, we agree to “check in the hardware first”.

  • Diluted Orange

    P O’Neil

    “What is needed is for the truth, the full truth and not the santised version being peddled by the Brits and their apologists, has to be uncovered. The Brits have to face up to their actions, and the ensuing consequences. All the dirty little details of their terrorist campaign against the Irish people has to be crammed down British throats. Once this is achieved, then they can all fuck off back home.”

    Sorry do you not mean the following –

    The Brits should pay millions and millions in lawyer’s fees to create commissions which tell us how bad they are and provide us Republicans with more propaganda.

    Simultaneously, whilst we run scrutiny over the British we should ignore all terrorist atrocities from the IRA because although no-one realises it yet it was in everyone’s best interests that we blew the shit out of everything for 30 years and our campaign was a natural progression for a free, peaceful United Ireland.

    Oh sorry did I forget to mention Tiocfaidh Ar La!

  • George

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