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 …

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

Action not another inquiry is needed to tackle the Troubles’ legacy as well as the legacy of slavery

Fintan O’Toole has turned his attention to support a new proposal for dealing with the legacy. While well intentioned, this one has a flavour of rummaging in the bottom drawer for an idea.  The proposal (which I have signed, along with many others) is a product of widespread consultation with victims, with combatants from all sides and with people in politics and academia. The nub of it is conditional amnesty: a system in which those with personal knowledge of violent …

Read more…Action not another inquiry is needed to tackle the Troubles’ legacy as well as the legacy of slavery

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 …

Read more…Pressure for a Troubles amnesty continues to mount.

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 …

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

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 …

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

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, …

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

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 …

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

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 …

Read more…Maps and metaphors guide the way to resolving conflict

Looking forward to an early end to the Stormont deadlock. Christmas cheer, or only a Christmas truce?

How will the parties  “reflect”  on their stance towards Assembly restoration during the Christmas lull? Will it be peace on earth, good will to all or only a Christmas truce? The finger of fate is pointed at the DUP.  Will their resentment spill over into resistance? How dare the secretary of state break precedent and single them out for blame just because all the other parties seem to have supported a deal? Even that is the wrong conclusion because as …

Read more…Looking forward to an early end to the Stormont deadlock. Christmas cheer, or only a Christmas truce?

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 …

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

“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 …

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

Come clean. The chances of compensation of victims of the Libyan connection are vanishingly small and the UK government won’t left a finger to help them

I’ve had only the slightest brush personally with the Libyan connection, the notorious gun running relationship between the crazed dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA which finally ended in another of Tony Blair’s diplomatic exercises. In one of the later lulls in the Troubles, in a fit of optimism they re-opened the city gates of Derry after a siege of a quarter of a century. My old family home was in the street at one side of the courthouse right …

Read more…Come clean. The chances of compensation of victims of the Libyan connection are vanishingly small and the UK government won’t left a finger to help them

Northern Ireland is a place as far apart as ever in the UK national media

“Northern Ireland is boring” has been every London news editor’s motto for a lifetime. News by definition requires new developments to be “News” and  what was seen  from newsdesks as the endless monotony of the Troubles  was a killer not just of people but circulations. And weren’t there bigger and better conflicts all over the place to use up the limited stock of compassion?  Remember the cynical old maxim: “one killing  in England is worth a hundred in Northern Ireland.” …

Read more…Northern Ireland is a place as far apart as ever in the UK national media

Northern Ireland’s justice system weathers the storms of controversy in the continuing vacuum from government

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan  Still no word of a decision on the Legacy Bill and no surprise there either. The justice system ploughs on with handling legacy cases against a background of continuing controversy.  The Daily Telegraph’s campaign against former soldiers having to face trial continues, with the  “disgusted” reaction by appellant  78 year old Dennis Hutchings  to the Supreme Court’s decision that he will face trial by a judge alone. The real objection, held by a strong …

Read more…Northern Ireland’s justice system weathers the storms of controversy in the continuing vacuum from government

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

“A leadership vacuum” that must be filled

A leadership vacuum is causing harm across Northern Ireland, including in loyalist areas, and contributes to the lure of paramilitaries, warns victims’ campaigner Alan McBride in the latest Forward Together podcast. “I think we probably need to put a lot of investment into areas like East Belfast and the Shankill and other areas to try and improve the leadership potential,” he argues. Alan adds: “As a grassroots working class Protestant loyalist myself, I have a real feel for that community. …

Read more…“A leadership vacuum” that must be filled

Theresa May wants a Stormont deal before she quits; but will Penny Mordaunt queer the pitch over Army prosecutions?

Theresa May  is back again looking for DUP support  to get the withdrawal Bill through the Commons either before 23 May the day of the Euro parliament  elections or  in mid- June, if her party haven’t turfed her out by then.  Her bid for support presumably  features a customs arrangement with  regulatory alignment added in order to dispose of the bogey of a border down the Irish Sea. The pitch  hasn’t worked so far with the DUP or in those …

Read more…Theresa May wants a Stormont deal before she quits; but will Penny Mordaunt queer the pitch over Army prosecutions?