Another ‘Flaw’ in the plan for an Historical Inquiries Unit…

Cillian McGrattan made a good point in yesterday’s Newsletter…

The latest attempt at providing a policy programme for dealing with the past, flags, parades and welfare reform, the Stormont House Agreement (SHA), is an ambiguous document that contains many unanswered questions.

One critically important grey area concerns the role of the Irish government in any future initiative to deal with the past. For example, the SHA contains a troubling discrepancy between what the British and Irish governments promise in relation to that area.

It holds the British Government to ‘make full disclosure’ to the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) – the body that will, it is envisaged, replace the police investigations into unresolved murders and the Police Ombudsman.

Only the British Government is required to make full disclosure. The document contains the disparity that the Irish government pledges ‘full cooperation of all relevant Irish authorities, including the disclosure of information and documentation’.

It’s only one of several design flaws with the HIU. In fact by sheer dint of the fact the HIU is part of the UK jurisdiction, it would be difficult for the Irish state to make itself unconditionally accountable to an organ of the British state.

As Jim Allister has pointed out, no one knows when this institution is likely to arrive (timescales and objectives are for other politicians, not ours).

Through the Historical Investigative Unit (HIU) a parallel police force is to be created, with equal investigative powers as the PSNI. Thus, arrests, searches, forensics etc will all be within their powers. How and when such will be recruited is scarcely covered, except it seems ex police officers will be barred. There appears to be little regard to the duplicate costs, but, clearly, money presently available for hospitals, schools etc will be diverted. Actions by “state actors”, such as the RUC and UDR, will be more readily investigated than the criminality of the terrorists. State files and records will be available and compellable; terrorist secrets will remain hidden. So, the prospect is of the RUC and UDR being hung out to dry while the IRA continues to escape.

  • Nevin

    Mick, here’s a link to Allister’s commentary on the Haass proposals, including the HIU. Your link is to a blog about Martin McGuinness.

  • chrisjones2

    …and the Irish Government ……. in the Breen / Buchanan inquiry there was evidence that the scene of the Narrow Water Bomb Blast and evidence from that was destroyed at the behst if Irish Government

  • Neil

    There appears to be little regard to the duplicate costs, but, clearly, money presently available for hospitals, schools etc will be diverted.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-29941766

    A European official has said the government should pay for investigations of killings by soldiers and police during the Troubles.

    The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights said budget cuts cannot be used as an excuse for not upholding the rule of law.

    So the British have to pay. As such I prefer not to think of it in terms of hospitals and schools. Better to think of it as money taken from a minute tax cut for the supremely wealthy, or a fraction of the 350 billion in printed money, used to bail out the people who gambled the UK into recession. Maybe they could fail to build a potential apocalypse inducing nuclear warhead and make do with the thousands they already have or something.

    So, the prospect is of the RUC and UDR being hung out to dry while the IRA continues to escape.

    From Wiki:

    The IRA itself lost 275–300 members and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year

    period.

    What many Unionists will always (deliberately) fail to grasp is that the security forces pursued the IRA quite vigorously during the troubles. It’s not in the least bit odd. The security forces, seemingly expended a great deal more effort into investigating the IRA than they did investigating murders committed by themselves. It’s a real headscratcher.

    The UDR and RUC got away with it. The IRA did not. Hence the need to investigate the crimes that no one attempted to investigate back in the day because their comrade did the killing. The only thing the state actors got for their role in murder was a medal pinned to their chest by the head of state.

    The Irish government angle is obviously a bit of a red herring too. The UK government, was in control of the territory where the troubles occurred, claimed as citizens of the UK the vast majority of those involved in the conflist, and was in total control of the various state actors who were involved in murder including the RUC, UDR, British Army generally, though subdivision could continue.

    Expect the usual shrieks of MOPEry, whinging of anfairness as those terrified of the horrible truth about the past emerging, and their last shred of moral superiority is stripped away by the truth.

  • Mister_Joe

    So, does Allister think that because we cannot solve some of the murders etc that non-State actors committed, we should therefore not investigate the crimes carried out by State actors and their pawns. That’s very weird coming from an officer of the court. They would not be in the position of being “hung out to dry”. There’s an old piece of advice as true today as it has always been – “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”.

  • aber1991

    “The IRA itself lost 275–300 members and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year”

    Was that all? I thought that is was well over 300 BUT you might be correct.

  • chrisjones2

    Does that include those murdered internally by its own staff?

  • chrisjones2

    The Irish Government was in charge of the area from which the Narrow Water Bomb was detonated and many other attacks were launched. One of its ministers at one point used Government money to arm the IRA. It was then an (unwitting) state sponsor of terrorism

  • mac tire

    Neil, estimates suggest there were around 20,000 Republican prisoners. Coiste na nIarchimí (the ex-prisoner group) claim 25-30,000.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes but all the rest were wrongly convicted 🙂

  • chrisjones2

    …and will PONI survive what looks like a recent attempt to stitch up police officers by withholding evidence? We need to see the full facts to see if this was individual or corporate, willfully corrupt or merely grossly incompetent

  • ted hagan

    I am often amazed at how Europe, after World War Two, with millions dead, millions exterminated, and millions left as refugees, managed to rebuild itself and within 10 years had established the Common Market and the framework for the EU, yet in Northern Ireland, after 15 years we’re still squabbling over marches and flags and other nonsense etc. We’re indulged, we’re spoiled. We need to seriously get a grip. Yes, there’s plenty that wasn’t settled, but then again; look at Europe and the crosses that some have had to bear.

  • willieric

    1,117 security forces’ fatalities of which 356 were policemen and women. 399 insurgents were killed, several dozen of whom died due to premature explosions and some of these were women.

  • Reader

    Neil: So the British have to pay.
    They will pay using budget cuts, as “budget cuts cannot be used as an excuse”. So it will be “hospitals and schools” and roads, and public sector jobs. The money that is spent on one thing cannot be spent on another.

  • Neil

    Our budget is calculated (as you know) using the Barnett formula, which is a baseline with extra funding applied based on the funding England gets, in proportion to population. So in order to cut several million from our budget, England would first need to cut it’s own extra funding and the funding given to Scotland and Wales (in proportion to population). I.e. whatever money the English need to use to clean up the mess they created cannot be deducted from our budget but from all budgets, and as we represent around 1.5% of the UK’s population, our cut (to extra funding only) should be along those lines. I.e. take it out of the Stormont biscuit budget and we’re covered.

    So it will be “hospitals and schools” and roads, and public sector jobs. The money that is spent on one thing cannot be spent on another.

    Oh, I must have imagined the tax cut for the wealthy then. Obviously the money that will have to be cut from all budgets cannot come from there. I also must have imagined the QE wheez where billions can be magicked out of thin air, devaluing the currency in your pocket to ensure the banking community didn’t suffer any loss of income.

    You can measure everything in baby incubators Reader, or bombs, or tax cuts for the wealthy. I choose to see the minuscule cost (relative to the UK’s overall budget) as being taken out of things I have to pay for but don’t want to. Fewer tax cuts for the wealthy, fewer nukes, fewer tax loopholes for government friendly companies etc.

  • Cue Bono

    I think the problem is that no effort is being made to solve the murders etc that non state actors committed so long as they are loyal to Provisional Sinn Fein. Everyone else appears to be fair game.

  • Cue Bono

    “The UDR and RUC got away with it. The IRA did not. Hence the need to
    investigate the crimes that no one attempted to investigate back in the
    day because their comrade did the killing.”

    This is just nonsense. A number of RUC and UDR people were prosecuted and imprisoned during the troubles. Indeed your propaganda machine never tired of using that fact as evidence that they should be disbanded!

    What you are proposing is that the polic etc should be pursued and the Provo crimes ignored because a higher proportion of Provos went to jail back in the day. That is utterly ludicrous. More Provos went to prison precisely because they carried out the bulk of the violence. A hell of a lot of them got away with it and if the security forces are to be pursued then so should they. Too bad if that includes leading members of PSF. Many of whom seem to have ed a suspiciously charmed life. I wonder who “Brocolli” could be?

    http://thebrokenelbow.com/2015/01/14/did-the-british-army-have-a-high-level-ira-agent-in-1973-code-named-brocolli/

  • Cue Bono

    “Then came the Great War. Every institution, almost, in the world was strained. Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world.

    But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world. ”

    Winston Churchill 1922

  • ted hagan

    Very apt indeed. I guess Churchill put it better than I ever could.

  • chrisjones2

    No…just refuse to co-operate with it. If you are a victim , for example, use the courts not PONI. If you are a former officer decline to assist. If you are a serving officer you have little option but at every stage insist on absoluet brespect for your rights and record everyything

  • Reader

    If you assume that the money will come from the central UK budget, then you can conclude that it will come from the central UK budget.
    Or if you assume that the money will come from the Northern Ireland budget, then you can conclude that it will come from the Northern Ireland budget.
    I think your guess at the source is wishful thinking on your part.
    However, I do like your accounting methodology right at the end – the obvious extension is: “spending money on bad stuff means less money available for worse stuff, and is therefore a good thing”
    By the way, it looks like the Eurozone will do a bit of Quantitative easing too. But at least while they are doing that they aren’t doing something even worse.

  • Reader

    So, in nice round figures, a volunteer was 100 times more likely to be arrested than killed.
    (Bastard Brits…shoot to kill…etc.)

  • Alan N/Ards

    Neil, You fail to mention the thousands of loyalist paramilitaries who were also imprisoned by the security forces. That fact, kicks the republican narrative ( that the security forces were on the side of loyalists) into touch. My view is that all lawbreakers should be treated the same. If there is evidence, then prosecute them regardless who they are.

  • Neil

    However, I do like your accounting methodology right at the end – the obvious extension is: “spending money on bad stuff means less money available for worse stuff, and is therefore a good thing”

    Nope, not what I’m saying. I’m saying that it’s a pounds a pence figure that can be measured against a raft of different things. Baby incubators or dead Iraqis. Apples or oranges if you like. Obviously the Unionist response is (usually) that it would be a bad thing to spend money on investigating the past, usually citing the reason that the IRA failed to keep as much evidence of their behaviour as the agents of the state. Roughly translated: if evidence exists against the RUC/UDR etc. we should ignore it because some IRA man may have got away with it.

    I believe that (some) Unionists have an alternative reason to avoid examining the past, so that they can maintain the “all Republicans were evil murderers and the good ole boys of the RUC and UDR were all just decent man doing their best” narrative.

    If evidence exists, go after them. And by them I mean everyone, including “Broccoli” and whoever you fancy. I’ve nothing to lose. But what I’m not accepting is that we should fail to examine evidence of criminal behaviour, up to and including murder, because the people who did it were RUC/UDR men. Regardless of whether you decide to measure the cost in hip operations or rainbows. .

    I also don’t go along with the notion that the rogue RUC etc. etc. agents were keeping records of their crimes. Like many people I believe they didn’t want to go to jail and in fact had more experience of the evidential process than the local paramilitaries and could attempt to avoid leaving evidence. Either way if evidence exists, get them in the dock.

    By the way, it looks like the Eurozone will do a bit of Quantitative easing too. But at least while they are doing that they aren’t doing something even worse.

    Yep, and the average European’s money in their pocket is worth less than it was yesterday and more than it will be tomorrow. The bond buying exercise will certainly help a few masters of the universe earn their strips, while the ordinary European will find the prices of everything just started to rise but they don’t have any extra money.

  • Neil

    On your first, that is true, and I don’t believe that there is a wealth of evidence available that hasn’t been acted upon. Bits here and there at this stage at best. And I don’t suggest every state agent was a criminal, or even most of them for that matter. I do believe there was a significant minority. On your second point I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Cue Bono

    The point is that no onne is looking for whatever evidence does exist to prosecute pro Adams republicans. Strange that people like McGeough and Kearney, who are opposed to SF, should go down for past crimes, but not a single Provo who has stuck to the party line.

  • John Collins

    And of course we are conducting enquiries down here into these matters, as is only dead right, yet we are getting absolutely no cooperation in our attempts to track down the Dublin/Monaghan Bombers.