There is no reprieve from the grave: rejecting the DUP’s death penalty call

In the midst of a global / European economic meltdown, there are many pressing issues deserving of time for Commons debate.

In the week of Remembrance Day, as ex-Serviceman Mark Mullins and his wife Helen commited suicide – apparently out of despair at their poverty and lack of adequate support from the State – perhaps it might be useful to debate why so many old soldiers are left to end up on the scrapheap, with inadequate benefits and inadequate mental health services.

But no, it’s the reintroduction of the death penalty to the UK to which DUP MPs have turned their attention. David Simpson MP has sponsored the early day motion to that end, which so far has attracted the support of six other MPs, all from the DUP.

Of course, they’ll have their supporters, such as Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes blogging fame, who is running a ‘Bring back the UK death penalty’ campaign. His e-petition has attracted some 23,856 names. The opposing e-petition currently has 31,038 supporters.

I debated the issue with him yesterday on BBC Evening Extra (40 minutes in), pointing out that, just for starters, with the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, we’d have had ten innocent people killed by the State if the UK had retained the death penalty. There is no reprieve from the grave, no correcting miscarriages of justice

Of course, the UK will not be bringing back the death penalty. The government – unlike the DUP – has no interest in joining a club whose members include China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Belarus, the only country in Europe still to judicially execute its own citizens.

I am the Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK and an occasional human rights blogger at Amnesty Blogs: Belfast & Beyond.

I’m on Twitter at @PatrickCorrigan