Brian Arthurs: “Republicans cannot see Irish unity in any of this.”

The ongoing saga of “prominent Co Tyrone republican” Brian Arthurs’ legal challenge to the ruling that he and his wife should stand trial in a non-jury court, on charges of converting criminal property and obtaining a money transfer by deception, received an update on Friday.

A panel of High Court judges had rejected Arthurs’ legal challenge in June this year.

On Friday the Irish News reported that “those judges [had] agreed to certify two questions to be put before the [UK] Supreme Court on points of law of general public importance.”

The first is whether the decision by the DPP to issue a certificate under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 should be judicially reviewed on grounds of procedural fairness.

Lawyers for Mr and Mrs Arthurs [] have argued that reasons for concluding there may be a risk to the administration of justice by holding a jury trial were never disclosed.

The second question is whether the DPP’s decision engages the couple’s right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Our intention now is to petition the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for leave to appeal the judgement of the divisional court in Northern Ireland,” Mr and Mrs Arthurs’ solicitor Paul Pierce, of Kevin R Winters and Co, said outside the court [on Thursday].

With the case now due to go before the Supreme Court, the couple’s trial could be further delayed.

Meanwhile, in an interview in the Sunday Tribune [added link], Brian Arthurs has revealed that he was one of a number of former senior Provisional IRA members in Tyrone who, along with Sinn Féin party members, left Sinn Féin two years ago.  From the Sunday Tribune

Five Sinn Féin cumainn, and 90% of the East Tyrone Brigade, left in the move.  Arthurs said: “No one can deny that there have been changes in the North but it is an equality agenda being pursued.  People did not die, they did not take up arms, for equality.  They did so for Irish Freedom.

“Yet a huge £100m MI5 building has been built in the North and 5,000 British soldiers remain there.  A special British military intelligence unit has just been deployed in Derry.

“David Cameron told the Tory party conference that he was prime minister of Britain and Northern Ireland.  He stressed the importance of the union and said, ‘together is how we must remain’.  Republicans cannot see Irish unity in any of this.  It should be remembered that, as republicans, we were committed to fight on until Britain made a declaration of intent to withdraw from Ireland.”

As I mentioned in a recent post, and “No one in this small, enclosed biosphere ever told them this project was never going to work in the first place…”

Also from the Sunday Tribune interview

Brian Arthurs said the nationalist community should not “pass on information opr collaborate with the PSNI” as Sinn Féin and the SDLP urged:  “Young people now, just like young people during the previous phase of conflict, will continue to be attracted to the republican struggle.

“It can be argued that an armed campaign is not advisable at this point in time but it will never be right to inform on those who decide otherwise.  Informing on republicans will lead to their families being oppressed by the state.  It will lead to the arrest and incarceration of volunteers and, at worst, to their death.

“It was wrong to pass information to the police 20 or 30 years ago and it is wrong now.  The graveyards are full of young republicans put there because a small minority of the nationalist community passed information to the Bristish Forces.”

Arthurs said that the independent republican societies [now formed] in Tyrone [“six societies with around 200 members”] were “non-party political” and were not linked to Republican Sinn Féin, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, or Éirígí.

Arthurs and [Peter] McCaughey said that, despite long-standing reservations about the direction of Sinn Féin’s strategy, they and others had remained loyal to the leadership because they didn’t want to split the movement.

“Two years ago, it reached the point that we couldn’t stay,” McCaughey said.  “We were told at a meeting in Tyrone that Sinn Féin’s support for the PSNI wasn’t just a written policy, we had to implement the strategy in full or leave.  So we left.”

McCaughey (40) had been a Sinn Féin member for over 20 years.  He served four years in the H-Blocks for possession of weapons.  Arthurs is a former election agent for Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew.  In 1995, he was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for possession of explosives.  He was released five years later under the Good Friday Agreement.  He was arrested in connection with the 2004 Northern Bank robbery and released without charge.

Two years ago?  That would have been in 2008… when a certain ‘deadline’ came… and went… [added text]