Tag Archives | Dealing with the Past

A new approach to deadlock in Northern Ireland

  A unique coincidence of events Standing back, it’s easy enough to see why the latest Assembly crisis is the longest and most intractable for over a decade. Unusually in recent times and in sharp contrast to the heady days of the Good Friday Agreement, this breakdown is set against background of momentous upheaval which more…

Resorting to law for violating impartiality won’t end political deadlock but fresh Westminster legislation now just might

It always happens, doesn’t it, that when political deadlock becomes tighter, legalistic arguments become more obsessive. It’s a hoot to claim that the once great  hero of the GFA  and now  the great scapegoat for all that’s gone wrong anywhere, anytime Tony Blair, conned the poor innocent parties to the St Andrew’s Agreement over an more…

The Westminster deal has a confidence building effect which should allow the DUP and SF to confront their differences honestly – and soon, in the Assembly

The DUP deal at Westminster is reasonably secure. The prospects for a Stormont deal seem up in the air and due for postponement until the autumn. The best hope for today is that Sinn Fein may feel they’ve got just enough to continue the negotiations back in the Assembly pending the creation of an Executive more…

Do we want Westminster to impose uniform UK standards? On abortion and same sex marriage? How about an indemnity for soldiers?

 Social reform – on abortion and same sex marriage – is not only a bone of contention in the Stormont talks. It’s creating a clash with MPs across party at Westminster at a precarious time for the future of both legislatures. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the appeal against the decision of the Health Secretary more…

What does the British government think its proper role is?

Until last week, remarkably little attention had be paid to how this government  views  its obligations under “Constitutional Issues”  (v) of  the Good Friday  (Belfast) Agreement: (v) affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised more…

The shape of a Stormont deal is emerging. Will promised public consultation seal the deal or become yet another stalling move?

So the parties are to respond to a paper issued by the two governments today. After four months of apparent lack of close engagement by the British government in particular , talks  took on a clearer shape and urgency since the Westminster general election. The paper has been seen by Barney Rowan and summarised in more…

Fears of a side deal with the DUP on the peace agenda are exaggerated. It requires cross community consent

So the DUP confidence and supply deal with the minority government will be delayed out of respect for the victims of the horrific North Kensington fire.  Mark Devenport has a credible analysis of the state of play. This leaves out saying anything definite about legacy matters that so spooked the political class over here when more…

Shock horror EXCLUSIVE! MI5 had Jeremy Corbyn under surveillance into the 1990s, for “links to the IRA”

Billed as  “Exclusive, MI5”, the Daily Telegraph  splashes with a predictable twist on an ancient theme, that Jeremy Corbyn had been under surveillance for having “ links” to the IRA. This is the flip side of the super-patriotic  coin that supports army veterans in their campaign, backed by Theresa May, against prosecutions for illegal actions more…

Brendan Duddy deserved a Nobel Peace Prize too

Coming soon after  so much painful reappraisal that accompanied the death and burial of Martin McGuinness, a tribute from Peter Taylor to a man who was unambiguously a peacemaker, as reported in the Irish Times.   Broadcaster Peter Taylor – who revealed Mr Duddy’s role as an intermediary between the IRA and the British government more…

Brendan Duddy RIP. A peace maker in real time

It is remarkable, in an age of sophisticated  back channels and espionage  replete with digital  and satellite communications, how a modest domestic background figured so  significantly in the moves which eventually led to the ceasefires – and all the more effectively for it. The problem was how to establish  trust when contacts had to be more…

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Moving on and forgetting the old soldiers of the Provisional IRA…

If you missed this from Shane Paul O’Doherty a week or so back, then it’s worth catching. You should try and read the whole thing. But I think this paragraph is worth highlighting… The IRA from the period 1969-2005 is the first version of the IRA where the leadership has distanced itself from the armed more…

A cache of UVF guns from Canada found in Oxford St, Belfast, April 1981.

On legacy, Mrs May seems determined to play a cute political game of her own

This is interesting… Soldiers and police officers who served during the Troubles in Northern Irelandshould not be prosecuted in relation to historical killings and torture, a Westminster committee has said. The House of Commons defence select committee said a de facto amnesty granted to republican and loyalist paramilitaries under the 1998 Good Friday agreement should more…

Amnesty for soldiers and police officers appears imminent after the election. And the effect on prospects for restoring the Assembly?

The government appear to be on the brink of taking the legacy of the Troubles out of the hands of the Assembly. The only  question remains if they would entertain an agreed counter proposal from the Assembly parties . You can work out for yourself  the prospects of that The Times (£) are reporting that more…

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Soapbox: Scappaticci, secrecy of the state and public trust

In his response to my criticism of Panorama’s programme on Freddie Scappaticci, or Steak Knife as he is probably better known, which was in essence that the programme had  failed to examine the possible role played in the running of Steak Knife by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in Whitehall – and therefore ignored possible more…