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!
On 6th June 1990 there were, on conservative estimates ,100 RUC informers among the PIRA in Belfast.
Each had a team of handlers, probably four in number, to cover sickness, leave etc. Four hundred so far.
The handlers had bosses; sergeants, inspectors, chief inspectors, superintendents etc. Let’s estimate a further fifty senior officers.
Four hundred and fifty so far.
Then the meetings had to be covered by E4A and others, each one, day by day. Maybe another 100 officers , who would have seen the likes of Scappaticci, Sean Maguire, Brian Gillen etc “singing like canaries” in car parks in Hillsborough, Holywood , Helens Bay etc.
Five hundred and fifty.
The there was the “Hen House” where women, in serried ranks typed up the transcripts of the recordings of the meetings. Another fifty, at least.
Six hundred now.
Move to the civil servants in the NIO and others who read the ‘product’.
Then the Director of Public Prosecutions and his staff…
I’m rounding it up at seven hundred.
Maybe a third are dead.
But out there , today are several hundred people who could help the victims. They could tell the awful story of state involvement in supposedly terrorist murders.
Only a few have spoken out.
Why? Like the Cosa Nostra , the silent ones are motivated by money. Patten payments. Big pensions.
Before turning attention and criticism on the republicans, victims should ask themselves-why the silence? The answer is that the relevant RUC officers and civil servants are corrupt. Like the Mafia.
Who? Think of Flanagan, White, McQuillan , Matchett and Mains, all still earning from the misfortunes of the victims and failing to tell the truth.
This is the real tragedy of the Troubles.
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.
I’ve just got around to reading the full text of your speech of 15thMay.
Straightaway, you mention transparency. That doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s because since I started communicating with the PSNI in 2002, your force has been opaque.
But let’s leave that for now.
I’m glad that you agree with me that something untoward was happening in policing during the Troubles and that it was not restricted to a few bad apples.
But then I’m puzzled. You say “In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing ‘agents’ police officers were left to set their own standards.”
Then you say that “there was no law” a few lines later you say “ there are [sic] a range of charges that can be brought”
You see, George, the persons who murdered my parents, whose names you can find on my blog, most of them had a handler and some of those handlers were police officers and you know who they were. Those officers knew, if not before , then certainly afterwards, the identities of the perpetrators. They , the police officers, committed most of the range of offences you enumerated above.
Records: lets dwell on that for a second. Prof Lundy and other academics have commented on those records which you say the Police Ombudsman has “unfettered access to”. No he doesn’t. Are you telling the public that the Ombudsman’s representatives roam the stores at Sprucefield and Seapark at will? What about your gatekeepers? The old SB guys. What about your chief spook, Drew Harris? Don’t they keep tabs on the files? What about the ‘difficult’ files which the Security Service has removed from you and now stores at Loughside?
Although you admit that you know of no legal definition of collusion, you say that it “signals malevolent intent”. What’s your authority for that proposition , George? I know why you say it. The secret is in the next bit. You want us to think about all the brave officers. It’s not about bravery , George.
You can give me no lessons on what a brave officer looks like.
It’s not long before you return to your old unapologetic self. You say that the police were operating in a vacuum. The police had no “framework, guidance or legislation”
I’ve news for you , George. The Human Rights Act of 1998 simply put on the British statute book the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which had long been recognised by British courts and a good read of it by senior officers might have given a hint about how to police. Anyway, allowing an agent to kill doesn’t take much of a look at a moral compass to know that it is wrong .
Frankly, I got weary of the same old words at this point, George. Why? Because for almost twenty eight years your force and its predecessor and every chief constable has lied to me.
So, on close inspection, I’m as unimpressed by this speech as I have been by all the rest.
Take your own advice, get out of your own comfort zone, be selfless and open the files on James and Ellen Sefton.
Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour and reputation were clearly common knowledge among the Hollywood set.
It took one woman to speak out. Then many others spoke out and then the ‘set’ admitted that they knew.
So too in Northern Ireland. Everyone knows that the IRA army council runs Sinn Fein. Everyone knows who is on the army council. They can be seen at Stormont any day of the week.
Everyone knows that many of them are MI5 agents, paid for by you and me.
Everyone knows that they were sometimes allowed, by their British masters, to kill. Police officers , soldiers, civilians and children were their victims. Everyone knows.
But nobody will tell.
Every informer had a state team around him. Several handlers. Minders. Back up. Senior detectives who approved recruitment and payment. MI5 operatives who de-briefed them.
Lots of people who now live comfortably on a pension could unwrap hundreds of cases. The relief to the ageing families would be immense.
The PSNI won’t do it. The HET didn’t do it, [described by an army council member as a sop to the loyalists]. PONI doesn’t deliver and the HIU is a distant and flawed dream.
So I’m appealing to all those retired RUC men and women. All those soldiers who served here, many of whom are outraged at their treatment, compared to informers and on the runs.
As with Harvey, it just needs one to speak out. To tell us of the crimes of Donaldson, Scappaticci, Sean Maguire and Brian Gillen, all paid killers of the state.
Then the rest will open up.
Isn’t it time you salved you conscience?
“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory” Mark Twain.
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)
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.