How the NI Protocol protects the Agreement

To the chagrin of Unionist politicians, it’s often emphasised by the four governments (UK, Ireland, EU, and US) that the Northern Ireland Protocol exists to protect the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. For reasons which are understandable when examined in isolation, Unionism feels let down by the promise of the Agreement. I can see where they are coming from. The Agreement is based on cross community consent; the Protocol does not recognise this. British citizens are asked to …

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United pressure on Sinn Féin may be needed to break the legacy payments deadlock. Their own will benefit

dFM Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin Has Martina Anderson’s outburst distracted attention away from the substantive issue of the legacy payments deadlock, or given a boost to resolving it, following the court case requiring Michelle O’Neill in effect to remove her veto or exercise her option to resign? The scheme covers violence related to the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1966 and 2010, including incidents in Great Britain and Europe.. . People will get between £2,000 and £10,000 a year for the …

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Northern Ireland Centenary: This country

This is about the centenary of Northern Ireland. But first, a slight detour. In Lucy Caldwell’s, ‘Multitudes,’ one of her characters describes the heartache of watching her teenage school friend move from Northern Ireland to England. “They’ve had enough is what Susan’s mum says. She just can’t take it anymore. ‘This country,’ she says to my mum. ‘This country,’ my mum says back to her, and neither of them says anything else.” The scene has always stuck with me because …

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Pressure for a Troubles amnesty continues to mount.

Denis Bradley, the co-author of the original report on Dealing with the Past thirteen years ago which  has never been improved on, has come up with an extraordinary argument for what reads like one step away from an amnesty for the Troubles. In this he joins the local academics who for years had been arguing that  assessment of the evidence against both the security forces and paramilitaries should be  independent from the usual institutions of the state if it was …

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Breakthrough news on the Troubles legacy. Legal critics of the UK government recommend a case by case amnesty

Prof Kieran McEvoy A get out of jail card has been produced by a group of academic lawyers who have spent years wrestling with the intractable problems of the Troubles legacy. The card would not only work for former soldiers facing charges, but also for the British government which is likely to face years in court if it tries to discriminate in their favour. Three weeks ago the  government suddenly abandoned the long discussed and  much consulted on plans originally …

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Major battle likely over the UK government’s latest Legacy plans.

For those of us who don’t provide an essential service there will be time and energy  to spare for the matters I’ve  already  drawn attention to, such as  the government’s  latest Legacy proposals  produced last week. They abruptly overturned  everything that has gone before, reached after  years of tortuous  gestation and months of consultation,  concluding in July last year. They were contained in a brief statement above the name of the new Secretary of State Brandon Lewis: Reconciliation and information …

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Is there a spirit of the Troubles that could help see us through Covid 19?

Some people have been invoking “the Blitz spirit” to cope with the “war” against coronavirus. Is there a Troubles spirit that might help too?  Perhaps. In the early 70s the threat of the  no warning bomb was the terrifying norm.   People skirted around incidents and shopkeepers called in council workers and the glaziers,  (a highly profitable trade), to clear up the mess. It helped that a chief constable’s certificate rather than insurance became the norm for claiming compensation. Once town …

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Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan: a recollection of the origins of the Peace People

As a young reporter  at the Finaghy Road North scene of the tragic death of her sister’s three children,  I inadvertently broke the news on camera to Mairead Corrigan that the third child had died. It was a moment that echoed the horror of the terrible event itself.   After Mairead’s powerful appeal for peace – one of so many from victims and survivors  in those years –  there followed  the scathing interview with a near neighbour across the invisible interface, …

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New Northern Ireland legacy legislation on the way at last, but with fundamental changes

Big other news announcement on the Legacy Bill which  on the face of it cuts back significantly on the prospects for new investigations and prosecutions for former security forces and paramilitaries alike. An NIO statement combines the legal investigative functions of the proposed Historical Investigations Unit with the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval. It is proposed that these measures should be carried out by one independent body to ensure the most efficient and joined-up approach, putting the needs of the …

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Maps and metaphors guide the way to resolving conflict

Sir George Bain served as Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast from 1998-2004 Northern Ireland (or is it the North of Ireland?) is often described as ‘emerging’ from 30 years of violence known as ‘the Troubles’, 22 years after they were officially ended by an agreement whose name cannot be universally agreed. The power-sharing Executive and Assembly have finally been restored after a three-year hiatus. Promised measures for dealing with the legacy of the conflict have come and gone: the …

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The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss.

The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss. by Allan LEONARD 8 November 2019 A two-day international conference examined the role that media plays in divided societies and in creating more peaceful and stable communities. Organised by the Social Change Initiative in partnership with Conciliation Resources and the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlements Research Programme, the event was attended by journalists from South Africa, Colombia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, Kashmir, Somalia, Syria, Nepal, and …

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A limited amnesty not only for soldiers but for all? Another case of a Boris Johnson election wheeze, without understanding what he’s proposing?

The High Court in Belfast On Armistice Day Boris Johnson is announcing what he would like to think sounds like a partial amnesty for former soldiers involved in the Troubles as well as foreign engagements like Iraq and Afghanistan. The subject is of course emotive but the substance is far from clear. What does the proposal to draw a line under Troubles prosecutions really mean? Mr Johnson said the party will introduce legislation to ensure the Law of Armed Conflict …

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“This is our last chance to deal with the Troubles legacy”

Academics who produced a critique of the Stormont House Agreement (Legacy) Bill have mounted a powerful defence of the Bill itself and their 100 pages of “tweaks” of it before the Commons NI Committee. The essence of their strong rebuttal of Ulster Unionist attacks is that their holistic approach acknowledges where the balance of responsibility properly lies for Troubles deaths. The Bill would replace a piecemeal approach to Troubles cases carried out by a reluctant PSNI which for some has …

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About “Whataboutery.” A Taxonomy

We’ve all seen it. It’s everywhere. Tune into Nolan. Load up your Twitter feed. Hell, look at comments on Slugger O’Toole. There it is – that pervasive, maddening incantation. It’s the ultimate stock answer, a rhetorical reflex, Ulster’s own version of Godwin’s law. Repeat after me… “BUT WHAT ABOUT??!” If you follow Northern Irish politics, you know about “Whataboutery”. It’s an infamous argumentative manoeuvre deployed by people on all teams. If someone puts forth an issue which makes one side …

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Shame on the London papers for ignoring the Ballymurphy inquest, while they support the campaign for a limited army amnesty

  Roy Greenslade is both a supporter of Sinn Fein and writing in the Guardian, a fair minded and expert critic of his old profession. I mention this to anticipate an irrelevant smear.   On the reporting of the Ballymurphy inquest, he’s absolutely right. A story that matches in horror the Birmingham pub bombs or the abuses in cause celebres such as Hillsborough or  the murder of Stephen Lawrence  is largely ignored because the initials  “IRA” are involved. The old reflex …

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British soldiers should remain subject to the rule of law wherever they served, argues former paratroop colonel

Colonel David Benest CO 2 Para.1994-97 writing in the Guardian… I have read both the Widgery and the Saville reports into Bloody Sunday, and for reasons not well explained the responsibility of the army chain of command seems wholly absent. In fairness to the army, most officers and soldiers, for most of the time, have performed commendably in very difficult circumstance between 1969 and 2007 – the formal end of British forces’ operations in Northern Ireland. Some have not. And in the event …

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Cabinet confusion and infighting continues over an amnesty for soldiers accused of offences in Northern Ireland

Penny Mordaunt Defence Secretary As reported by the BBC, the new Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt  has announced that a new law providing legal protection for soldiers “ on the battlefield” would not apply to Northern Ireland. This was in line with an earlier statement by the NI Secretary Karen Bradley. Ms Mordaunt said it would prevent “repeated or unfair investigations”. The protections, which will be put to a public consultation, would not apply to alleged offences in Northern Ireland. The …

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The results of consultation on the Legacy Bill are about to be announced. They must be kept apart from the Stormont talks

Bloody Friday BBC image Barnie Rowan has broken important news on EamonnMallie. Com worth repeating at length. Just a few days ago the Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie described as “a staggering omission” the decision to keep the legacy question outside the main talks process – that new negotiation aimed at restoring the political institutions at Stormont and which has now completed the first week of its work. So, what is the thinking behind this? It is this. That to …

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Lyra McKee’s partner Sara Canning’s blunt messages for her killers and the government

The mural of Lyra McKee, unveiled in Belfast on Tuesday From the Guardian report of Sara Canning’s interview on Channel 4 News   “If the politicians won’t legislate for equal marriage at Stormont, then the prime minister should do it at Westminster. That’s what I told Theresa May at Lyra’s funeral. I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country. Surely that’s not too much to ask? She …

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Can Northern Ireland Change?

‘You have to have hope,’ my friend always tells me. Usually this is after I’ve been outlining the likely facts of my children’s future, on account of our great leaders trashing the planet and laughing all the way to the bank. ‘You can’t live like that though, you have to have hope,’ she says. I like Frankie Boyle‘s take on hope. If you see a leopard, hope is not a good evolutionary strategy. There’s no point in saying, ‘Is that …

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