Sinn Feins Raymond McCartney and Gerry Adams have been to see security minister Paul Groggins to discuss the problems for released terrorists especially in regard to jobs.
Mr. McCartney said: We drew to Mr Goggins attention the British Secretary of State’s acknowledgement in a recent letter to Gerry Adams that ‘we all have a responsibility to ensure former prisoners are neither legally nor administratively penalised’.
“We pressed the Minister to deal conclusively with this problem. Former political prisoners are too often unable to access employment in government agencies, on statutory boards or in departments which are being run by ex-prisoners who are Government Ministers.”
“The root of this stems from the fact that the law makes no distinction post imprisonment between common criminal activity and arrest, and imprisonment arising from conflict related incidents.
Mr. McCartney is of course exactly correct in regard to this. The root of the problem is that very many in Northern Ireland do regard the paramilitaries of all sides as simply common criminals and as such unsuitable for a wide range of jobs.
The fact that pensions were raised is also interesting. One wonders whether Sinn Fein feel that those terrorists who served sentences and as such have had less time to earn pensions should receive some sort of war pension.
Mr. Groggins has agreed to respond to Sinn Fein on the matter: the outcome should be interesting though whether his view of “A sensible approach to resolving this anomalous situation for those imprisoned will be to SFs liking remains to be seen.
Unfortunately a fresh start for the thousands of ex-political prisoners and their families” is not really open to very many of the ex-prisoners victims.