Jeffrey Donaldson’s new car

Following on from my last blog on this, I have test driven the new model, that Jeffrey recommends.

This is the one that the populace are asked to buy,  by way of a “consultation”.

The draft Bill  is 68 clauses long, and it has 19 schedules. It runs to 120 pages. The section on the HIU has 38 clauses and 16 schedules.

Jeffrey,  is the DUP’s spokesman on victims’ issues, so we might assume that he knows what he is talking about.

Lets look at some of the things he has said in Parliament about the establishment of the HIU.

“At present, in fairness to the victims and families who have waited a long time, the proposal is that the historical investigations unit would pick up where the historical inquiries team left off in chronological order. It would be wrong to go back to the beginning and start again, leaving the people who have already waited many years having to wait even longer.”

What does the draft legislation say? Clause 8; deaths must be investigated in chronological order [unless there are exceptional circumstances] . So nul points for that statement.

“It is important that the Government now proceed with the Stormont House agreement and get on with publishing the draft legislation to give innocent victims and others the opportunity to comment on the proposals, so that at last we can begin the process of implementing what has been agreed and the focus will no longer be solely on what the state did.”

This is a consultation, not an opportunity to comment on proposals. Here is a brief summary of what that means:

(1) consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage (2) the proposer must give sufficient reasons for any proposal to permit of intelligent consideration and response, and (3) adequate time must be given for consideration and response and (4) that the product of consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising any statutory proposals.

So its not just as simple as Jeffrey would like it to be. What if citizens reject the proposal? Jeffrey asserts that it has been agreed. So is this consultation a sham and a waste of time?

“We endorse the institutions proposed under the agreement, including a new historical investigations unit that would have full police powers, and would take over the work of the PSNI’s legacy investigation branch and the responsibility for reinvestigating the unsolved murders linked to the troubles in Northern Ireland.”

“Two years ago, we reached an agreement in Stormont about the legacy issues and several new institutions were proposed, including an historical investigations unit that would have full police powers to revisit the unsolved murders. The main impact of the establishment of that unit would be that the murders committed by the terrorists would finally be subjected to proper scrutiny and reinvestigation, and the innocent victims that the hon. Member for South Down referred to would have the opportunity to have their cases re-examined to see whether there was the prospect of prosecution and people being brought to justice.”

It’s important to couple these statements, representing a bright shining JeffreyLand and compare them against reality. Here is what the Bill proposes:

Not all troubles related deaths are to be investigated. A time frame has been specified.

Only those which are currently on the books of the PSNI or the PONI will be considered. So if you relative’s case is not with either of these bodies, generally speaking you will not qualify.

Each of these bodies must certify to the HIU that the death requires further investigation. Many will not be so certified and will therefore not be investigated.

HIU is only  to investigate any of these deaths it takes on  if there is “new evidence”

This means evidence that PSNI/RUC or PONI or HIU  did not know of or knew of but was not aware of the relationship between the evidence and the death.

But. The new evidence is to be assessed for credibility and the evidence is to be taken into account with all other relevant information.

So if the HIU thinks the evidence is weak or it is leaned upon by the Spooks , you case will also fall by the wayside.

The Shawcross test is certainly present in Clause 7, where the HIU must not do anything which might prejudice the national security interests of the UK, put at risk the life or safety of any person. This is the get-out to protect informers, who were present or participated in many of the murders.

The suggested presence of informers is a feature of many troubles murders. Some also may involve participating informants. To date these cases have not been solved because of the State’s activity in hiding these persons. The State will continue to hide them.

There seems to be no mechanism for a relative or interested person to make a fresh complaint to the HIU.

The HIU is forbidden from duplicating work. So the HIU could read the papers from the PSNI or the PONI, decide that it will not duplicate the work, that there is no new evidence and bin the case.

Let’s assume that the HIU considers that maybe there is an agent or informer or some State actor. It has no access to the Spooks’ warehouses. It has to ask for information. If you don’t know what the Spooks have got then it’s hard to ask for it. On the other hand the Spooks are under no obligation to hand over information, no matter how relevant it might be.

This could have been [partially] resolved by giving HIU unlimited access to the warehouses. How likely is that?

Worse, the Secretary of State  and the Department of Justice  can both make regulations limiting the use of secrets.

As a general weapon, the HIU director can bin cases under clause 9 if he feels that they will hinder the completion of his task in five years.

So, how more effective will the HIU be, compared to PSNI/LIB or PONI?

The answer is , not a lot. The Bill is State sponsored sleight of hand. All the faults of the HET , the LIB and the PONI HID are present here. Worse, the State has tightened up the control of State secrets, so informers and agents are better protected than ever. How many cases will be investigated? Nobody knows  but it certainly will not be Jeffrey’s assertion that:

“the innocent victims that the hon. Member for South Down referred to would have the opportunity to have their cases re-examined to see whether there was the prospect of prosecution and people being brought to justice.”

If I were guessing the number would be in the hundreds, not thousands.

Jeffrey, as the DUP victims’ expert,   is knowingly  selling the same old model of car [HET/LIB/HID] , with a new paint job, a radio and go-faster stripes. It still handles badly, takes ages to get anywhere and lets you down at the vital moment.

Don’t buy it!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Marking twenty eight years

In any other jurisdiction, there are cold case reviews on a regular basis. Even the PSNI is embracing this idea , with the recent activity over the death of Inga Maria Hauser, found dead in April 1988.

As someone said , recently, sad as it is, why her?

The answer of course is that the huge lump of Troubles deaths involve the state and the vast store of documents, implicating it. There are stores  in Sprucefield, Seapark and Thiepval, where the army sits on a million copies. The state, in the form of Hamilton, Harris and the faceless people of MI5 will keep the lid on, as best they can.

All the citizen can do is keep probing.

What is additionally disappointing is that the new leaders appear to have gone to Spooks Academy.

Consider the letter written by the deputy director of the PPS in the case of Seamus Ludlow. His understanding of hearsay would shame a first year law student. How did he become deputy director and regurgitate all the lines of the state? Can you guess? Let’s hope he gets well spanked in the High Court.

As part of the week to mark twenty eight years since the murders of my parents, I am posting a secret document, giving an insight into how the state worked.

There will be other posts in this anniversary week.

 

Go way , peasants

On 9th October, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,  Alister James Hendrie Burt will have to entertain a motley crew. They will be Arab, English , Irish and Northern Irish. Their common bond will be Semtex. That pernicious explosive will have killed their family member, their friend or will have injured them.

Burt, as a junior minister at the FCO has drawn the short straw , meaning that he should entertain this group and tell them once again [how many bloody times must we tell them?] that HMG will not lift a hand to help them.

The peculiarity of this group is that , among all the peoples of the world, they are the only people not to have been compensated for Gadafy’s supply of Semtex to the IRA.

As a member of the Establishment, Head Boy of Bury Grammar School, St John’s College Oxford, degree in Jurisprudence 1977; he will be required by his masters to send the [mostly] Paddies away with some more platitudes.

Burt will have been briefed as to the dangers of this group. To the danger of the history of the UK’s relationship with Gadafy and with the IRA, where HMG ran numerous informers.

So , the outcome of this meeting is pre-ordained. Burt will express sympathy. He will tell the audience of peasants that Libya is a basket case. He will say that we must wait till there is stability. He won’t tell his audience that Libya is producing a million barrels of oil a day or that its  exports to the UK exceed $350 million a year. He won’t reveal how many of his Tory friends want to do business there, including those of Boris, his boss. Remember the joke about clearing the dead bodies so that a casino could be built?

Burt is another of those Tories who believes the rules are for the little people, [over claiming expenses on his flat.] He is just another Tory, on the make, passing through.

Such is the British response to Terrorism. One a  crook and the other a conman. Those of you affected by killings in Tunisia, Manchester or London, don’t believe that the State has any regard for you. The government is in the grip of the Spooks , who drive the agenda. And of chancers, controlled by the spooks.

 

 

 

Sinister forces at work in Northern Ireland

In his novel  “1984”, George Orwell wrote:

“Hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak-‘child hero’ was the phrase generally used-had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.”

A recent Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism campaign encouraged law-abiding citizens to look through each others’ bins to check for “suspicious items such as chemical bottles and to report any troubling findings to the police” Fake blondes-hide that peroxide bottle! I’ve struggled to find the Troubling Findings Act.

China’s Ministry of Supervision has a discipline watchdog which opened the “unified informant hotline” for the public to report discipline offences of civil servants and officials.

Eavesdropping and informing on each other to the Stasi was a way of life in East Germany.

Stalin’s regime relied on “mutual surveillance” urging families to report on each other about ‘disloyalty’.

So how grateful must we be to live in a liberal democracy.

Not so. This blog is not about the programme of informers during the Troubles. Like Scap, Donaldson , Sean Maguire and Brian Gillen, they got their money and , those still alive are living a comfortable life, protected by the British State.

This blog is about what is happening in our communities  now. It is about democracy, freedom of speech and the ability to protest.

Many Loyalist areas of Belfast have taken the Queen’s Shilling in return for compliance. The Greater Shankill is an example of that. The killing of Bobby Moffett has been swept under the carpet so long as  the locals support the GFA. The Spectrum Centre doles out nearly a million pounds  each year ,to the locals in wages. The UVF and Arlene are at peace.

Other communities are not GFA supporters. The result is that they are subject to harassment by the PSNI, as an arm of the State. Frequent use of the Terrorism Act 2000, in dubious circumstances. Searches of legitimate community facilities for “loyalist paraphernalia”. The stop and search of  individuals on a regular basis, in breach of the codes of practice. Stops by ‘Road Policing’ with bogus allegations of no insurance or road tax.

It’s not a crime, of course, to oppose the GFA.

Or is it?

Lets read a new document. It is entitled:

“THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE (ON BEHALF OF THE TACKLING PARAMILITARISM PROGRAMME BOARD)

Building capacity in communities in Transition Project (2017-2021)

Information Memorandum

Tenders are invited to support the delivery of this project.”

The programme “is committed to promoting the use of peaceful and democratic means and upholding the rule of law across all communities”

So consider this , Dear Reader. In the proposals which tenderers can make , is the requirement that they show an “outline of how information will be shared with police on individuals who do not support transition”

“Transition” is not defined anywhere.

The Board is chaired by the Department of Justice and is comprised of civil servants and the PSNI.

So , if you want to get your community nose  into this particular trough you will have to undertake to snitch on those who are not supporting “transition”.

“Feed your Snout-be a Tout” might be the catch phrase.

Of course , the document is keen to espouse the rule of law.  The rule of law encompasses ‘no punishment without law’.

What law is being broken which requires the citizen to “share information” with the PSNI about an individual who does not support transition?

The answer is that this programme , aside from offering monetary bribes, further undermines the rule of law. The PSNI willingly particpates , not only by harassment but by being part of the supervising body. The Stasi would be impressed.

The lesson is that you can be a paramilitary as long as you are a State approved-GFA loving paramilitary. Otherwise you are in big trouble.

It’s unlikely that any mainstream politician will put his/her head over the much funded parapet about this.

Approximately  one third of the workforce depend on the State for their mortgage. In addition, vast swathes of the middle classes , including journalists ,are paid fees by the BBC, the Housing Executive and every other public body for services rendered. The country is in the grip of the Security Service, forget about Brokenshire. Even Stalin would be impressed with such a compliant body, when it is allied to the likes of the Greater Shankill Partnership Soviet.

It’s hard not to conclude that democracy  and freedom of speech died in Northern Ireland years ago.

 

 

The Greater Shankill Scam

The Greater Shankill Partnership [“GSP”] is masterminded from the Spectrum Centre.

The Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Renewal Plan was ‘declared’ in 2007.

[NB. It is always important to apply imposing names to these matters.]

Who and what is the ‘Greater Shankill’?

It’s an area of North Belfast, mostly the Protestant bit, though 12% may be Roman Catholic. Its population is 18,028, at the last census.

In the last year that figures are available, the GSP spent £974,000 on wages.

It has produced an “Action Plan” for 2017-2018. This plan has achieved legitimacy because it was approved by the “Greater Shankill Community Convention” and adopted by “the area’s Neighbourhood Partnership”.

So there! When I think of the Convention I think of Revolutionary France. How those delegates in the Spectrum Centre must have questioned the management!

Before examining the plan , let’s examine some statistics.

The percentage seeking jobseekers allowance has increased from 7% in 2003 to 10.8% in 2014. Much greater than the general populace.

Income support has also increased compared to the outside world.

Education

Those in the area achieving Key Stage 1 level 2 or above in maths fell from 92.2% in 2005/6 to 85.4% in 2011/12. The national figure in 2011/12 was 95.8%.

In English, on the same basis, the GSP figure for 2011/12 was 82.3% ; the national figure was 94.8%.

Not so bad , you might think. But consider the next statistic.

At least 5 GCSE passes at A*-C including English and maths. In 2007/08 the GSP figure was 18.9%. This showed a significant improvement to 36.5% in 2012/13. But the national figure that year was 65.9%, almost double.

The GSP don’t even bother with A level statistics.

How many children are we talking about? It would appear that the figure of those of school age is significantly under 2,000, perhaps 1,700.

So, what’s the plan?

Well, this organisation which employs over fifty people and spends nearly one million pounds a year on wages, doesn’t really have one.

Here’s their action plan for 2017/18.

They are going to “engage in conversations with 100 children and young people”. They are going to “audit ” services. They are going to give “sustained support co-ordinated for 100 children and young people”.
They are going to “Establish a platform for the Zone’s development and implementation”, and continue working with QUB.
At this point in time , Dear Reader, your bullshit detector may be tweeting.
Don’t you love a “platform” “implementation” and the addition of a pretty discredited university?
You are correct. There is not one word as to how this plan will be measured for success or not.
Meantime those fifty plus people, including some who are paid well above the national average, will keep their jobs, slaving away in the Spectrum Centre.
That’s over £500 for every child of school age on the Shankill.
If you desire some acupuncture it’s free but if you want your child to avail of the summer programme for moving to secondary school, it will cost you £10. This must say something about the management.
But there is worse!
Glenwood Primary School is yards from the Spectrum Centre.
The Education and Training Inspectorate report conclusion in January 2013 stated:
“In almost all of the areas inspected, the quality of education provided in this school is inadequate; the areas for improvement outweigh the strengths in the provision. The inspection has identified significant areas for improvement in leadership and management, standards, and learning and teaching which need to be addressed urgently if the school is to meet effectively the needs of the all the children.”
A subsequent report , in May 2104 , concluded:
“In the areas inspected, the quality of education provided by this school is now good. The school has important strengths in most of its educational (and pastoral) provision. The inspection has identified an area for improvement which the school has demonstrated the capacity to address.
There remains the need to:

• continue to raise the standards achieved in literacy and numeracy and embed the good practice which has begun.

The Education and Training Inspectorate will monitor, through district inspection activity, the school’s progress on the area for improvement.”

It is truly astonishing that those who were governors of this school in the relevant years, allowed it to sink to a position where the ETI had to intervene.

So let’s wait a year and see what the Spectrum Centre produces for those 1,700 or so children of the deprived Shankill.

Aside from their own salaries and pensions.

Belfast Royal Academy-a new chapter?

Belfast Royal Academy , the oldest school in the city, has a new Principal.

The school has about 1,400 pupils in the grammar school, about 196 of whom are entitled to free school meals.

Its A level performance has been deteriorating over the last four years. Department statistics show that the percentage of pupils achieving three or more A levels at grades A* -C fell from 78% in 2012/13 through 70%-73%-71% in subsequent years.

This compares [although those who know more about these things, say ‘not really’] with the top performing secondary schools in Northern Ireland which achieve in the upper 80% or in some cases over 90%.

In its  2012 Annual Report, mention is made of sending three pupils to the ancient universities. Thereafter , there is sparse mention of more than one such achievement, annually. The Methodist College sent 8 pupils to OxBridge in 2013/14.

Standards have clearly fallen within the school. This is always, ultimately , the responsibility of the Board of Governors.

The Board has appointed Mrs Hilary Woods as Principal. She was , for three years, Principal of Antrim Grammar School. During that relatively short tenure , for a Head, she was also  [for some period] Assistant Principal of Craigavon Senior High School.

 

Antrim Grammar’s performance in the comparative A level statistics is 77%-76%-77%-76%. It is not 80% as claimed by the school’s website. [Read the very small print]

Mrs Woods was Head of a school half the size of BRA, with about 52 pupils on free school meals and a budget of £3 million, largely controlled by the Education Authority. She had about 46 teachers.

She now takes command of a budget of over £6 million and 80 staff.

She is the first external appointment to the position of Principal since 1943. She faces a daunting task, to restore and indeed to improve academic standards.

As the Warden said to me “a new chapter”.

Let’s hope so.

My life in a banana republic:coup d’etat

Jambo!

I have never before written to you twice in a month but these are extraordinary times.

Here at C.R.A.P we were today having our office party. While some of the boys and girls drank cheap beer and ate  small sausages, I was watching events from your assembly on the hill. The Great She Elephant was in difficulty. Some fellows who are not in government want to remove her. She called it a ‘coup d’etat’.

I and my family have great experience of coups. First we had one against the whites. Then we had one against a prime minister who had been voted for by some people, finally we had one against the rival tribe.

THIS IS NOT A COUP!

If it were there would be tension, martial law, imprisonment without trial,curfew, shootings of civilians and tanks. All these things are familiar to the older persons here but were absent today. This was just some fellows jousting in the chamber. A while ago they were all in government together and were kindly to each other. I’m sure that not one carried a gun or a stick or punched anyone in the great hall. It was a very power-sharing coup.

Which brings me to my other point. When are we going to hear the smack of firm government?

The Great She Elephant has said things about Mr Bell. Why did she not smite down this man at the time? Why did the men of the DUP not come to her aid? Peter is a Red Beret. Jeffrey was in special forces. Emma’s father handled missiles. Could not they have taken Bell to task? Why was he not imprisoned? Beaten with sticks? His lands confiscated and his family humiliated?

My grandfather, the first president of our country had no time for such persons, he ate those who disagreed with him.

So today in my country there are no SpAds, officials, clergy or other such hangers on.

And another thing! Why does she not control the television and radio? Then these things would not have amounted [as my friend Donald says] to a hill of beans. Put that Nolan fellow under house arrest! Let us hear what delicious things Gregory has found out about him. Deport Crawley!

Truly today was remarkable. Your Speaker is a fine fellow. He knows upon what side is his toast buttered. I am suggesting to my Uncle that he is invited to deliver the next annual lecture on the Democratic Process in our parliament.

I return to my theme. Be firm, Great She Elephant. Give these fellows their orders, like Lord Wellington. Then send them home.

Then eat your intensively heat reared Christmas Turkey in peace.

Jambo!