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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Gripping the IRA :Part II

It is useful to set out the correspondence in extenso.  [Lawyers love Latin, no more so than Lord Carswell,  that Old Instonian, whose surprising expenses claims for attendance at the House of Lords were set out in extenso in the Sunday Times.]

But I digress.

Here is the correspondence.

IMG_3486

fullsizeoutput_266bVersion 2IMG_3485What is surprising about this exchange , coming in late 1988, is the pessimism shown by Peter Bell.

Note his comment “there still remains too much adhoccery in the way Whitehall grips…the kind of problem which IRA terrorism is likely to present us with over the coming months”.

Ivor Roberts has no firm proposals, in reply, except for a jolly good lunch. [Your club or mine?]

The exchange does not sit well with the analysis by those who say that by this point PIRA was heavily infiltrated and was being paralysed.

It does, however , point to the likelihood that each of the agencies, RUC , Box and Army , were very much doing their own thing with informers. That leads on to the question whether or not the RUC, with a duty to preserve life, could ever have known if informers to the Army and Box were participating in murder.

Re the Boyd Group, TOP [I] and the Assessment Staff Machinery, that is all for another day, Dear Reader.

“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.

Touts are everywhere

Way back, when the occupying power, as James Galway describes it, decided to recruit pro- agreement people and place them in law , administration, business and other key places, they must also have thought about journalists and politicians .

Our local journalists are keen to write articles about  who might have been a tout, loyalist or republican but how many of them are state agents? Imagine the access they have to the inner workings of the terrorists. See Kim Philby’s career. When the SIS ‘ditched’ him , they sent him to Beirut under cover as a journalist for the Observer and the Economist. So, shall we have an article , outing journalists or is that beyond the Pale?

Politicians. Most of Sinn Fein/IRA lost the opportunity for education by being banged up. The loyalists, on the other hand availed of third level education. A favourite fishing ground for Box and SIS is Oxbridge. Who went there?…No! Surely not!

Let’s think who else would be useful. A lawyer! They have access to all sorts of information. Perhaps someone transgressed and men came at dead of night and said, “well Paddy/ William, no more will be heard of this little problem but we’d like some information from you, from time to time”. Such information, about their clients, from a barrister or solicitor, would be priceless. What would be the reward? Judicial office?

Then there is that mass of mostly dead wood who inhabit  all sorts of NGOs. Check out their bios and you will find that they are re-cycled at an alarming rate. What they have in common is “sit down you’re rocking the boat”. For this view the NIO and the OFMDFM rewards them handsomely. Frank Cushnahan comes to mind for a reason that I can’t quite put my finger on. Many rose without a trace  from the University of Ulster. Sport NI is just the tip of the toxic iceberg.

So, come on you journos, let’s be having you!

A prominent rapist died today

The murder of “Jock” Davison, while hardly the saddest thing to happen this year, exposes again the double think in this society.

Despite being a terrorist, a member of northern command and no doubt a multiple murderer the Belfast Telegraph described him as “a former IRA ‘OC’ for Belfast and the BBC “the prominent republican”. You would have to look hard to find him described as a terrorist or a murderer.

Imagine a headline “Joe Bloggs, the well known rapist and child molester died today”.

Imagine the howls of outrage from the Sisters, Liberals and others, wanting to know why Joe had not been ‘brought to justice’.

The point is that Northern Ireland’s “free press” is in thrall to the Northern Ireland Office. Giving the Shinners a kicking via Mairia Cahill is good for the establishment , particularly in  Dublin but don’t mention the war.

The PIRA volunteer

Somewhere out there , in Ardoyne or West Belfast are men [and/or women] who came to my parents’ house at dead of night and planted a bomb.

Next day my mother, who was a ‘non-combatant,’ received such serious injuries that she died within 36 hours.

Who were these people? How do they feel today, nearly twenty five years on?

What is their reaction when they read of the pardons given to senior commanders? What about the informers, Scap, Donaldson, Gillen etc? All living the good life, in the pay of the British State.

What do they now think , as parents, about PIRA treatment of women and boys?

How do they feel , still living in Andytown, while Gerry has three houses?

Do they feel betrayed? The paradise state of a united Ireland has not been attained.

And what do they remember of a sixty six year old beautiful woman, whose life they took?

Nothing is True and Everything is Possible

This is the title of a book by Peter Pomerantsev. He paints a picture of a counterfeit democracy ruled by television, where all trappings of freedom are present, elections, an opposition, a functioning judiciary and a free media but little reality. It is “a strange and effective confection of propaganda, disinformation and entertainment.”

He is describing Russia, I don’t think he has been to “our wee country”. Would he notice much difference? At least Russia has an opposition.