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!

 

 

 

 

 

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Twenty seven years ago

On this day, twenty seven years ago , the PIRA bomb team, which I have publicly named, [ all of whom are still alive, some active in the SF/IRA election campaign in North Belfast] killed my father and so wounded my mother that she died the next day.

Let’s focus on  my mother, Ellen Sefton, aged 66, retired. Her only connection to “the conflict ” as SF/IRA now call it, was to be married to my father and to be a Protestant. No words of apology were ever uttered  by PIRA about her  death. She was the subject of a sectarian assassination involving collusion by the State, no different to those killings suggested by republicans. In all the forty years I knew her she never uttered a word against Roman Catholics. She was ahead of her time. She  befriended gays and Jews and loved the  heady atmosphere of New York. She loved its words and its freedom. She loved her family. She looked after  her mother till she died at 92.  She was full of life. She was my biggest fan. Perhaps that’s why it hurts so much.

Twenty seven years on , the State campaign of ‘forgive and forget’ is still being waged. Useful young idiots , solicitors, businessmen etc. are tapped up with promises of places on NGOs, slap up dinners, and photographs with the great and the good; if only they would embrace the “Peace Process”. The hurt and damage that these people cause  is beyond measure.

For all of these 27 years the State has lied to me, about the big stuff, its involvement  with PIRA, with Libya -and about the little stuff, who knew what about  UCBTs. The State knows who killed my parents, why would they not? They had so many informers that  by 1990 they had over run PIRA. So why don’t they come clean? What dead hand prevents disclosure? Who protects the like of Sean Maguire? To what end?

Who could believe the British Government about any security issue, old or current? A lesson that many of us have learned and many of the relatives of  the dead of Manchester and London will soon learn. Nothing is ever as it seems and the State will always lie to you.

I miss my parents every day.

I’ll continue to fight for them till my dying breath. It has cost me every material thing  I owned  but that doesn’t matter.

If I don’t do it , who will?

And I still own myself….

“Gripping the IRA”

Much has been said about the security triumph which, the Brits say, halted the IRA and led to the Good Friday agreement.

In  late 1988  a different picture was being painted by the Security Coordination Department of the Foreign Office. In a letter to the Northern Ireland Office , Ivor  Roberts said that “MPSB, Box 500 and the RUC each have their role on the intelligence side”.  He remarked  that Operation Flavius was the exception rather than the rule and that operational matters such as the Eksund follow up are also “uncoordinated”. He said that the Security Service ” rarely get round to telling us what we want to know”.

Operation Flavius was the shooting of three IRA members in Gibraltar. Roberts complained that nobody would tell him of the detailed provenance of the Eksund’s cargo. On the latter point, the cargo came from Libya but it is very likely that the Secret Intelligence Service and possibly the Security Service had agents among those who purchased the arms  and particularly the Semtex in Libya. This may well explain the reluctance of HMG to press for compensation for those killed and injured by PIRA Semtex bombs.

There were also issues between the Foreign Office and security coordination.

He characterised the position as “entrenched interests”.

He had no solution to propose, reflecting that the responsible ministers “are not, of course without their own vested interests.”

The image is of each party, RUC, Army and MI5 ploughing its own furrow, to the detriment of security. It gives further credence, of course, to the case that many killings and other operations were carried out by one arm of the State, unknown to another. Collusion by the State was not directed just against Republicans.

Moussa Koussa and the Chief Constable

I wrote to George in December 2015 about evidence that Andrew MacKinlay had given the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. He said that MK “would have known about Semtex and the supplying of arms to the IRA over many years and probably authorised it”. I asked George if MK was interviewed by his officers when MK had his stop over in the UK and if he intended to seek MK’s extradition from Qatar.

At the end of January 2016 “Will Kerr OBE Assistant Chief Constable, Crime Operations” replied. This all came as a big surprise to him and , no , they did not interview him and no, he was “not currently being sought in connection with an offence in Northern Ireland”. He did say that they were trying to get an address for Mr McKinlay [sic] so that they could “establish whether he possesses evidence of Mr Koussa having committed a criminal  offence”. I suppose they might ask Mr MacKinlay who received the Semtex in Ireland, though that might be embarrassing for the NI Executive.

Of course, George could have popped in to say hello to MK , when he visited Qatar recently. The Belfast Telegraph reported that George had an all expenses visit to Doha and stayed at the  luxury St Regis Hotel. Given that MK was booted out of his suite at the Four Seasons Hotel and now lives in a small house , it was the least George could have done to have taken him for a slap up meal at his place.

There, he could have asked him to relate his life as a CIA/MI5 agent and tell George stirring tales of shipping Semtex to Martin McGuinness and other the other chaps that George shared a platform with in West Belfast. He could have given George a rough estimate of how many people died as a result. What George refers to as “legacy issues”. MK could have explained how MI6 rescued him from Libya and flew him on an executive jet to the UK before MK retired to Qatar.

Mk and George could have chatted about flogging , torture and the deaths of 1,000 workers in Doha. They could have mentioned corruption around the World Cup.

George could have told him that the PSNI always “follows the evidence”.

Alas the PSNI’s “human rights based policing approach” seems not to have borne fruit and George came home with no new news about MK.

Meanwhile I have this assurance from Will. “if evidence exists relating to offences in Northern Ireland, we will consider what further action is necessary in accordance with our statutory obligations”.

Take it easy Moussa!

Doug Beattie and leg humping

Soldier , author of “An ordinary Soldier” and “Task Force Helmand”, holder of the MC, UUP councillor and sometime talking head, said:

“they won’t go away, they can’t be reasoned with it’ll only get worse. IS must be defeated militarily and politically.” This in response to an article in the Independent which attempted to set out the nuances of the situation.

I responded to him “calm down dear, let’s treat them like PIRA, all will be well then.”

Unable to see the subtlety of the remark [and the reference to Cameron] he suggested that I was being patronising.

I explained that my remark was made as a result of my experience of HMG and PIRA.

He responded “You’re kinda foolish aren’t you-you’d best jog on and hump someone else’s leg”.

I suppose this must be NCO speak for something.

The point is that on Sunday, lots of talking heads, more able than our second favourite local squaddie, offered pat solutions to IS and lots of jingoism.

Nothing is ever as it seems, who knows how many IS fighters received assistance from the CIA or MI6? How often has IS been used by the West against other foes?How many agents does the West have in IS and how many participate in attacks? What negotiations are going on with IS as we speak? Remember that the British Government talked tough about the IRA for thirty years , all the while negotiating with it. Remember how Major’s stomach would be turned by such a prospect?

As Lord Castlereagh said of diplomacy ” a lie is not a lie where the truth is not expected”.

IS is embedded in many countries and reflects discontent with those particular regimes, a certain view of Islam and no doubt hatred of the West.

Not one commentator I heard on Sunday wanted to open up the wider picture. Apart from the embedded hatred of the West, accrued after the  perfidious treatment meted out by Britain and France after the Great War and subsequent US foreign policy in the Middle East, nobody wanted to mention the thousands of Muslim women and children, killed by the West since 9/11 .

That might provide an explanation [though not an excuse] for both massacres in the last year in Tunisia.

The lets ‘go napalm their village” approach has failed over and over. The British Army’s performance in Iraq and Afghanistan was pitiful. There are no bad privates only bad generals and the British press, disgracefully, have failed to hold successive generals to account.

I’m sure Doug was a good  and brave company commander and I’m sure his views are about just as worthy as Richard Dannatt. Both are wrong in their simplistic thinking .

Why I admire Jim Swire

The Times today published a letter from Dr Jim Swire, “father of Flora, murdered at Lockerbie”. Can a father ever have written a more poignant phrase?

The bombing, in 1988, remains fresh in the minds of those who were then alive.

British foreign policy might be summed up as ” we have no allies or enemies, only interests”.

Dr Swire has been unswerving in his search for the truth and for justice for Flora, though the twists and turns of the case.

He is a man who fears no-one. Read today’s letter.

He is correct. Who would tell you the truth? The judiciary? The prosecution service? The State?

All is subsumed to the requirements of the State and all the state’s actors play their part.

I wish him well, I hope I can stay the course as he has done.

Spot the spook

X is shot dead by Y[unknown to anyone?]  as X sits in a pub with A and B.

X’s member of parliament, C, says that it is disgraceful.

D, a journalist, reports  on the shooting of X.

E, X’s lawyer, says that he has written to C, X’s MP.

C  calls upon F  , the relevant minister, to condemn and investigate the killing.

G is appointed to investigate the killing and report to F

candidates are asked to spot the spook, or alternatively the non-spook….