To check Sinn Fein winning the propaganda war, a general amnesty should replace prosecutions in exchange for official disclosure, say unionist legal experts, arguing for the scrapping of the government’s Legacy Bill

“Transitional justice has facilitated republicans turning what ought to have been a hostile environment (namely, the historical record of over 2,000 attributable deaths, almost 60 percent of the total murder count, in a sectarian campaign of assassination and bombings – not to mention the accompanying litany of bloodshed, unblinking cruelty and lives destroyed) into a fertile soil allowing them to sustain a campaign of commemoration on ‘an industrial scale.  (The approach has) saturated thinking about the past to such an … Read more

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

More than the leadership of Arlene Foster it’s about what the DUP under unprecedented pressure, is for

In “Arlene Foster’s authority is ebbing away“, Newton assesses the pressure on  her  in the Irish Times.  His fascinating analysis is  the latest example of local Kremlinology  peering into the suffocatingly tight networks that dominate these little parties.   But new outside elements are at play as never before to supplement rapid change at home , like the unpredictable fallout of Brexit and pressures for social change from London and Dublin. But for these pressures to have full effect, they must … Read more

“where reconciliation is a selective process, healing a pernicious and destabilising past remains as a challenge to us all.”

It’s had a muted response, both here on Slugger and in the wider media but this intervention from a group of Civic Unionists and unaligned others makes some senior points about the way NI politics is conducted as though they did not exist. I hope we’ll have a direct contribution from the group here on Slugger, but for now here’s the text… “We the undersigned desire a transparent and inclusive debate concerning rights, truth, equality and civil liberties and in … Read more

The draft agreement revealed: So far but yet so near

The cats have been let out of the bag thanks to the sources of Eamonn Mallie and Barney Rowan, (Sinn Fein?). From documents of “a dozen pages or so plus annexes and separate agreements,” we pick up the story below from a week ago last Friday. The secretary of state will no doubt be questioned on the details in a statement on the talks failure  when the Commons resumes tomorrow.  The Sinn Fein leadership will meet Theresa May on Wednesday … Read more

‘Cross Community Projects’ are Outdated in Today’s Northern Ireland

The concept of a polarisation of politics is one often talked about in today’s society, and in Brexit Britain and Trump’s America and so many other cases it is easy to see evidence of this polarisation. People follow different narratives that offer different (or alternative) facts and there is a demonised view of the motives of politicians that you do not agree with. In Northern Ireland polarisation of politics is nothing new to us, and it continues to this day … Read more

The British government are contemplating an all-round amnesty, claims Denis Bradley. If so, it’a too hot to handle for the local parties and should become a big ticket item for Westminster

 Denis Bradley has been spelling out a basic home truth about dealing with the past in discussion on BBC NI’s The View with his partner in the still definitive Eames Bradley report. “Tough love” for victims is overdue.   Writing in the Irish News, he has also made some startling assertions. That families should be given truth pertains to knowing what and why a death or injury happened during the four decades of the troubles. But there is something out and … Read more

At the sharpest end of dealing with the past, whatever the arguments, the Haggarty case takes your breath away

A Loyalist  “supergrass” who admitted the murders of five people among hundreds of offences has had a 35-year jail term reduced to six-and-a-half years for helping the police. Gary Haggarty, 45, was a former leader of an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) unit in north Belfast. Haggarty was a paid police informer for 11 years The judgment from Belfast Crown Court indicated that the 35-year jail term was reduced by 75% for the assistance given to prosecutors and then a further … Read more

Arlene Foster may be called to court to defend blocking the funding of legacy inquests – a key issue between the DUP and Sinn Fein

With exquisite timing for the renewed political talks, a case of judicial review  in the High Court has resumed which alleges that “former First Minister Arlene Foster unlawfully blocked Executive discussion of a funding plan aimed at clearing a backlog of legacy inquests for purely political reasons.” The charge has lain at her door for almost two years and she may yet be called to court to defend it.   In an earlier session the judge dismissed Mrs Foster’s bid to … Read more

The Loughinisland appeal, when “withdrawal” is not “recusal”

Now I may have been dreaming but I’m almost sure I read yesterday that Mr Justice McCloskey had announced he was still sticking with the Loughinisland appeal case, in spite of the objections from the lawyers representing the families and the police ombudsman. But no. I woke up to this morning to learn he had in fact withdrawn. Reporting howler in jumping the gun?  Maybe. But then there’s that legal language of fine distinction  but crucially different meaning like “ … Read more

Dramatic turn over bid to quash the police ombudsman’s Loughinisland report

Pressure is mounting on  Mr Justice McCloskey to withdraw  from the hearing to  quash the police ombudsman’s report on the Loughinisland  murders.  The bid was made by lawyers including the recently  retired director of public prosecutions Barra McGrory. Last week the judge had already deferred a ruling to allow a new lawyer for the police ombudsman  to read himself into the case. This has turned out to be the former DPP. Newly instructed counsel for the Ombudsman, Barra McGrory QC, … Read more

Time for nationalism to provide representation based on an expansion of the future for ALL the people of Northern Ireland

So Brian’s cartoon made the News Letter’s editorial yesterday. I’ve only ever cited a leading article on a handful of occasions but this is worth noting… On one hand, it’s just a statement of what ought already to be obvious. But after a year of Sinn Fein propaganda, a lot of people seem to have been convinced that the strange disappearance of the Institutions of the Good Friday Agreement has no tangible cause. Others uncritically take SF’s line that we are … Read more

Neither Catholic nor Protestant they are “Northern Irish dead” and we owe them all, not just some…

Reconciliation statue Photo by Amanda Slater

It says everything about our inability to deal with our past that we have almost everything – up to and including cynical manipulation of narrow political interests – short of a public acknowledgment of the distress and the need for help common to all… Noel Whelan in the Irish Times today writes: There is no reason why we should feel the need to segregate the victims of the Troubles into Protestant and Catholic like their killers did. Those killed in the … Read more

Crucial court ruling today on Loughinisland report will have a major impact on dealing with the past

Mr Justice McCloskey is due to rule today  on whether the police ombudsman’s  findings of  police collusion in the Loughinisland murders should be quashed. His earlier ruling that the findings  were “ careless, thoughtless and inattentive . . . in . . . language and structuring” and “quite unacceptable by any standard” was greeted with satisfaction by the retired police officers’ association which had brought the action,  but dismay among human rights activists and not least, the Loughinisland  relatives. Belief … Read more

Sinn Fein’s MP for West Tyrone “apologises” for taunting Kingsmills victims…

Andrew described SF’s outreach as that of a baby and a cat. If Barry McElduff’s tweet is anything to go by there’s little innocence in the way SF actually see unionists. Barry has now rather implausibly claimed that it was unintended. This Twitter exchange in Irish, I had this morning, I think covers all probable bases on that: Samhlaigh, le tamall anuas tá scéal na coscartha ar an nuacht. Chuaigh sé isteach i siopa le cara, roghnaigh sé arán le … Read more

“…poetry, the opposite of propaganda, should encourage people to think and feel for themselves”

Pete mentions Michael Longley in one of his holiday period posts and that powerful thesis of his about what peace is and what it isn’t. For my money, Longley’s attempts at poetic legislation are among the most lasting and resonant. The New Statesman has published his PEN Pinter Prize Lecture 2017 in which he makes important observations on the degree to which actual process of peacemaking compares to the more pliable and politically tractable Peace Process™️… He notes… …from the … Read more

“…the policy he was so central to for so long was toxic to public morality.”

Just putting this here because I think it tails nicely with Diarmuid Ferriter from Saturday and Newton Emerson last Thursday. It’s Colm Keena on Gerry Adams… The career of the politician and republican activist Gerry Adams has shown an almost unerring capacity over the decades to get the important things wrong. This marked capacity is as true of his time as a leader of a movement committed to the use of killing and destruction in pursuit of its aims, as … Read more

The postwar ID requirement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Reading through some old Wikipedia articles pointed me to an interesting exchange in the House of Commons, back in 1948. Ulster Unionist MPs Conolly Gage and Major Samuel Gillmor Haughton rose during an adjournment debate to complain about the requirement for a permit or passport to be presented for travel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Mr Gage opens by highlighting the inconvenience of this arrangement : As everyone knows, Ulster is as much a part of … Read more

Amnesty for security forces foreshadowed in the DUP deal

Just a footnote to yesterday’s post on the government’s floating of an amnesty for security forces. The Irish News follows up predictably enough with angry responses to what they rightly report as the adoption of the recommendation of the Commons Defence Committee report  just before the general election. The committee, which includes DUP MP Gavin Robinson, said that the pursuit of members of the crown forces was “wholly oppressive and a denial of natural justice”. “It can be ended only … Read more

A plea to Gerry Adams from a Falls Road boy

In recent times we often hear the narrative that has been orchestrated so carefully by apologists for Sinn Fein – namely the huge personal risks that Adams and Mc Guinness took for peace. I do not believe that such an argument is credible. The people that really took the risks for peace down the years were those in the northern catholic community (and indeed outside it also) who defied the IRA and whose political and moral courage often cost them … Read more