Pitch for a selective ‘use of immunity’ sets Sinn Fein at odds with victims groups

Declan Kearney’s blog over at the BelTel on the Secretary of State’s 7th March speech is worth highlighting for a number of reasons. One, it comes a full seven days after the Villiers speech. And two the argument begins with an odd reference to ‘narrative’: By setting out the primacy of a single narrative, and rejecting the use of immunity as one instrument to assist in dealing with the past, the British Government has come out against the Haass compromises. …

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TUV, SDLP and UUP host victims commemoration at Stormont

Alan has a post on the Alternative Ms. Ulster event hosted by Steven Agnew at Stormont on Sunday complete with the inspiring / daring / indecent, speech/ behaviour by Ms. Park. In contrast yesterday the UUP, SDLP and TUV hosted the third annual day of remembrance for victims of terrorism. 120 people attended and three people spoke: Michelle Nixon who has been caring for her brother since he was seriously injured in 1979 by an IRA bomb in Rosslea; June …

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Not a cosy conversation: Victims and survivors conference

The Commission for Victims and Survivors (CVS) convened a conference “to listen to as many voices as possible” in forming its advice to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, the CVS Commissioner Kathryn Stone explained. The event was well attended by a couple hundred delegates, representing the broad spectrum from Northern Ireland’s Troubles; but remarkably absent were politicians. https://soundcloud.com/mrulster/20140225-cvs-01-kathryn-stone?in=mrulster/sets/20140225-cvs-conference Commissioner Stone quoted the Haass-O’Sullivan published draft document, in regards to the leadership role demonstrated to date …

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Victim-Centred Justice: Beyond the Rhetoric

By Luke Moffett and Kieran McEvoy INTRODUCTION There has been much said about victims in recent months in Northern Ireland, particularly in relation to the Haass negotiations on flags, parades, and dealing with the past. Perhaps the phrase most used is that any process to deal with the past in Northern Ireland has to be ‘victim-centred’. Although the view that the process should be ‘victim-centred’ is laudable, there has been little said as to what this will mean in practice. …

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Victims’ Commissioner sets herself against victims

Sam McBride from the News Letter has a series of articles interviewing Kathyrn Stone the relatively new victims’ commissioner in which she has expressed views likely to undermine her role as a spokesperson for victims. Stone’s problems seem to come from refusing to state an opinion on some of the most basic of issues relating to victims. Ms Stone declined to say whether the IRA, which killed 1,706 people, or the UVF, which killed 430, were terrorists. When asked whether, …

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Identifying “risk from child sexual exploitation” is only the first task of the police, health and justice systems…

Welcome news… “As part of this review, we have identified a group of 22 young people who may be at risk from child sexual exploitation and are seeking to identify those who may have committed crimes against them.” Identifying victims is not the same as prosecution, and it certainly does not mean that for the victims themselves their ordeal is over. This File On 4 programme broadcast earlier this year gave a harrowing account of some of those experiences from the …

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Amnesty International report: NI “victims’ families actually consider their treatment a failure.”

So, no further inquiry into Omagh. And at least some of the secrets of the cover up on Bloody Sunday, goes to the grave. Regarding those who can still answer for their actions, it’s all “I cannot remember,” “I do not recall,” “I have only a very vague memory.” For others, it’s all “Republican code of honour”. Publishing their new report on Northern Ireland, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s International director for Europe and Central Asia said: “There’s a cruel irony in …

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In learning from the past do honesty and comprehensiveness cancel each other out?

“There must be ghosts all over the country. They lie thick as grains of sand. And we’re all so horribly afraid of the light.”  – Henrik Ibsen (1881) So the past is a foreign place after all. Nowhere more-so than in Northern Ireland. The decision to ‘plant’ the G8 in Northern Ireland is testimony to the degree which things have calmed down in the twenty years since the ceasefires. Still, we remain a battleground of sorts. There’s a steady stream …

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Victims have been promised many things ever since the GFA, but…

Just came across this this evening towards the end of the week. It’s from Newsline, on Tuesday, I think… It’s only short, but just about here Alasdair McDonnell says something well worth noting at least… Victims have been for fifteen years promised truth, promised solutions, promised reconciliation, promised hope and are not getting closure. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a …

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On the matter of uncertainty and principle…

With all due apologies to students of quantum physics out there, Brian Feeney’s ‘poetic’ use of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in today’s Irish News (£) to explain the SDLP’s apparent confusion over the last fortnight is too good to resist: The principle suggests that the closer you get to establishing the position of a particle the harder it is to work out the speed of its movement [or rather its momentum – Ed]. Conversely the closer you get to working …

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Sinn Fein possess the resources to sidestep any negative employment effect of #SpadBill…

So, just a quick tidy up on the outstanding issues around the SpAdBill, namely employment rights. Daithi McKay, who has played point on this issue over the last year or two has suggested that: “Members of staff could potentially lose their jobs, and that is not what we should be legislating for in the chamber, in the Assembly. We should be legislating for jobs, not taking away jobs.” As it happens, the narrow terms of the bill will only have …

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Are some victims campaigns more acceptable than others?

Never one to pull his punches, in today’s Irish News Newton Emerson gets down to asking an important question of Relatives for Justice, the director of which Mark Thompson has written: The bill is a direct consequence of the failure to independently deal with the past in an inclusive and holistic way and as such should not be progressed in isolation to a wider process of inclusive truth recovery. Ideally this issue should be the opportunity to now convene meaningful …

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Ní Chuilín stops (unexplained) HET blocking move on release of inquest documents to relatives

It’s hard to disagree with Brian when he says there is no real serious attempt to deal with the past. On the Republican side, the understanding is that that is not possible until everything is dealt with. But in the meantime some families have been trying to use the mechanisms of the state to try and get closer to the truth of what happened to their loved ones. As John noted here on Slugger, the re-opening of an inquest into …

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Ann Travers: “If had joined the IRA or a loyalist paramilitary and killed someone, I would be being listened to…”

Ann Travers talks to Wendy Austin earlier on Talkback on the SDLP’s petition of concern that will finally kill the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill. I’ll try and get a better quality recording as and when it becomes available, since for a number of reasons, I think this is an important interview. I’m going to refrain from detailed comment on this though – as you might guess having written a long profile of the political, opposed to the legislative, arguments …

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Is there really no hierarchy of victims when it comes to the past?

There has been a lot of words written/spoken etc on the issue of Eibhlin Glenholmes (once ‘Britain’s most wanted woman’) being appointed to a panel hand picked by all three of the three Victims Commissioners. Stephen Nolan decided to lance the boil last night, even though as two of panelists pointed out we did not know who else was to sit on the the victims panel. There’s a couple of things to say about this. One, why appoint a set of Victims …

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Hearts and Minds: Starting a conversation about having a conversation?

This exchange from Hearts and Minds last night has two, what I’d call, very very weird moments. One is when Mike Nesbitt tells Noel Thompson to ‘go and talk to his producer’ about the conditions under which he has agreed to do the interviewer. And two is really just the way he stumps Declan Kearney (who holds only a party office in Sinn Fein). This comes at the end of repeated attempts by Nesbitt to get Kearney to start the …

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Terrorists and Forgiveness

The News Letter yesterday had an article quoting (and interviewing Ian Bothwell of the Crossfire Trust in Darkley). He suggests that some Republicans he has spoken to are “seeking forgiveness for their past.” From the News letter: He says he knows several former IRA members who would like closure on the deeds they have committed in the past. “We are talking about a number of republicans who have engaged in front-line activity,” he told the News Letter. “They would like …

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Twentieth anniversary of Teebane

Almost any date in Northern Ireland is the anniversary of a death from the Troubles. Often the less iconic are forgotten about. As such marking one event may be unfair to the relatives of the less well known about deaths. Sometimes, however, the anniversary is such that is should be marked. This is the 20th anniversary of the Teebane murders. 20 years ago this evening a group of workmen were returning home from working on Lisanelly army base in Omagh: …

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Victims and the redress of historic grievance: shall we forbid them, or not?

A sharp observation from Malachi O’Doherty in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph that the past is becoming more not less livid, put me in mind of a line from the King James Bible (Luke 18:16), “suffer little children to come unto me” followed by the less familiar “and forbid them not”.  With new campaigns springing up it seems that the demand for redress for past injustices is transferring through the generations: The eloquence and passion of the grandchildren of the McGurk family, the …

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Unionists highlight Troubles border murders

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that at the meeting of government ministers from Northern Ireland and the RoI in Armagh, Arlene Kelly and Danny Kennedy presented Enda Kenny with details of more than 150 republican murders in border areas during the Troubles. They have called on the RoI government to apologise for the fact that the IRA killers were able to escape across the border following these murders. Mrs. Kelly said: …that they should remind the Irish Government of today …

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