A Letter from Ireland
The thing about lying is that it insults the person listening. Even more so in a room full of people who know that you are lying.
I felt the same insult as I read and listened to various British politicians try and explain their unilateral action to end all investigations into the past conflict.
British Government “There was no consensus on the way forward”
In January 2020 both governments and the major parties agreed to implement the Stormont House Agreement on legacy within one hundred days. Ninety days after signing the agreement, the British Government walked away from their obligations and that consensus, ignoring the unilateral opposition to their plans.
The unilateral plan they have enacted is opposed by all parties, victim groups, the Irish Government, the US Congress, and human rights experts.
British Government “There is little or no hope prosecutions so all investigations should be banned”
Just think on that. In mature democracies, it is up to the prosecutorial agency, and ultimately, the courts to determine prosecutions following a judicial investigation. Not a government. Worse, many of the outstanding cases involved British agents and the British military in the commissioning, involvement, and cover-up of killings. This government is now acting as judge and jury in cases in which they were the executioners.
The Legacy Act blocks inquests, civil actions by those bereaved and injured, and police ombudsman investigations; these are not even prosecutorial, strictly fact-finding, but will also be banned.
British Government “The current process is not working for victims”
There are problems with the current processes which is why a new process was agreed upon at Stormont House in 2014 and recommitted to in 2020 by both governments and the major parties. The slowness of the process is down in many cases to government agencies withholding information and challenging the processes at every step.
Despite this many victims of state violence have achieved disclosure through civil actions on information withheld by the British.
Many victims of state violence have had their loved ones exonerated in inquests and have uncovered the truth through police ombudsman reports. All of these have made for uncomfortable reading for a British Government fearful that it or its military will end up before the courts.
Victims support the current processes over the new British Government laws.
It is clear that the British Government believes the processes are not working for the British Government so they must be closed down.
The proposals must be challenged and held accountable. The Irish Government must take an interstate case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Let’s see if the British can treat judges with the same contempt they treat all of us.
Have a great weekend.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.