Category Archives: Northern Ireland

No justice for anybody as Tories announce blanket amnesty for crimes in NI ‘Troubles’

Northern Ireland: I’ve chosen not to publish a representative picture of the Troubles for reasons of taste.

Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed that it is planning to end all prosecutions relating to crimes committed during the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

The decision has been widely condemned. It seems the government has set out to upset everybody except the criminals among both the security forces and paramilitary groups.

Groups representing the victims, together with representatives of the executive parties at Northern Ireland’s Stormont government, have expressed their opposition.

It seems victims’ groups haven’t even been consulted.

Labour leader Keir Starmer raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions today (July 14): “I worked in Northern Ireland for six years with the Policing Board and the police and I have prosecuted terrorists as the Director of Public Prosecutions, so I know how difficult and sensitive the issue is. But a blanket amnesty, including for terrorists, is plain wrong.

“It is absolutely clear that the Government’s amnesty is not supported by the political parties in Northern Ireland and it is not supported by victims’ groups. Last Thursday, I spoke to victims of terrorism at the WAVE Trauma Centre in north Belfast; they have not even been properly consulted on the proposal.

“If things are to move forward in Northern Ireland, any discussion has to start with the victims. Politicians in London cannot simply draw a line under terrorism and other crimes and then force it on those most affected.”

He quoted Julie Hambleton, whose sister was among the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub bombings, and who said: “Tell me Prime Minister, if one of your loved ones was blown up beyond recognition, where you were only able to identify your son or daughter by their fingernails…would you be so quick to grant their murderers an amnesty and propose such obscene legislation?”

Johnson had no comfort for Ms Hambleton – and admitted it: “Nothing I say or can do now can in any way mitigate her loss.”

But he said: “The people of Northern Ireland must, if we possibly can allow them to, move forwards now.

“There are many members of the armed services who continue to face the threat of vexatious prosecutions well into their 70s and 80s and later. We are finally bringing forward a solution to this problem to enable the Province of Northern Ireland to draw a line under the troubles.”

And he tried to turn the issue into an attack on Starmer by saying the plan had “a wide degree of support, if I may say so, from former Labour Prime Ministers and former Labour leaders who are of considerably more distinction than the right hon. and learned Gentleman”.

Is this true, fact checkers?

Johnson concluded: “Someone with greater statesmanship and clarity of vision would have seen that and given the proposals a fair wind.”

So, politicians who live and work in Northern Ireland – not to mention the victims of the crimes he is wiping off the record – lack statesmanship and clarity of vision, according to Johnson?

Forgive This Writer for putting forward an opinion on this matter, but it seems to me that Johnson is trying to put a stop to prosecutions – along with civil cases and inquests – because they seem too much like hard work and he can’t be bothered.

The BBC has reported that

Northern Ireland’s five main political parties, the Irish government and several victims’ groups have been highly critical of any suggested blanket ban on prosecutions for Troubles-era offences.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the “the proposals for an effective amnesty for Troubles-related crimes are totally unacceptable”.

Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said … the move was “an act of absolute bad faith by the British government”.

Victims of the Ballymurphy shootings in 1971 also expressed anger over the reports.

[And] Amnesty International rejected the proposals as showing an “appalling and offensive disregard for victims”.

The only voice raised in support of the proposals was that of Lord Dannatt, a former Army chief, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles – some of whose officers and men would have been under threat of prosecution if this amnesty does not happen.

And even he admitted that it “isn’t the solution to everyone’s problems”!

This is another back-of-a-fag-packet plan that reeks of Tory corruption. If they can’t make money out of a process, they simply aren’t interested.

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Starmer announces support for Northern Ireland unionism – at the worst possible time

Keir Starmer: open mouth, insert… well, jackboot, really.

Is Labour leader Keir Starmer deliberately trying to stir up violence in Northern Ireland?

He has told an interviewer that, if a referendum were called on whether NI should rejoin the Irish Republic, he would campaign with Ulster Unionism against Irish Unity.

If this happened at a time when he was prime minister (unlikely, I know) this would contradict the Good Friday Agreement:

In any case, Starmer’s decision to say this could not possibly have come at a worse time. He said it just days before July 12, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day – the Ulster Protestant celebration of William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne that began Protestant Ascendancy in the province.

According to our good and reliable friends, Wikipedia, “On and around the Twelfth, large parades are held by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, streets are bedecked with British flags and bunting, and large towering bonfires are lit.

“The Twelfth has been accompanied by violence since its beginning.”

This apparent endorsement of Protestant supremacy by a Labour leader is likely to encourage the more incendiary elements of the Protestant population. Who knows what could happen as a result?

It was an astonishingly irresponsible statement for Starmer to make.

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Should Northern Ireland split from the UK to end deadlock with the EU and keep Biden happy?

Deadlock: The EU has a trade agreement and couldn’t care less if it harms Boris Johnson. And Joe Biden’s commitment to co-operation with the UK may waver if a solution can’t be found and the Troubles return. What if the Province splits from the UK – for the good of its people?

It makes a nice story on the eve of a G7 summit – especially one taking place in the UK. And that’s what the BBC propagandists want.

But while US President Joe Biden and the UK’s pipsqueak Boris Johnson might agree that trade problems in Northern Ireland due to last year’s UK-EU deal need to be solved, we have no reason to believe they agree on how.

The European Union has no problem with the current situation. All the problems were created by Boris Johnson because he rushed through a trade deal, either without understanding it or without caring what was in it – to meet a deadline he thought he needed to maintain public confidence.

Even the BBC had to admit it:

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.

“We have a trade deal – it has been painfully discussed for years… if six months later, they say: ‘What we negotiated with you, we don’t know how to respect it’, then that means that nothing is respectable anymore.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the Northern Ireland protocol – the name for the post-Brexit trading rules – was the “only solution” and should be implemented fully.

Biden’s interest dates from the 1990s, when his forerunner Bill Clinton worked with people on all sides of the Northern Ireland question to help bring about the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called “Troubles”.

The BBC (again) has already published details of a planned speech in which Biden was set to voice concerns that deadlock on the Northern Ireland Protocol could jeopardise peace in the Province.

Sadly, with Biden taking pains to stress that he is not “warning” the two sides in any way, the EU unwilling to give any ground at all, and Johnson incapable of understanding the complexities involved, it seems there may be “Troubles” ahead once again.

There is a simple way out, of course: Northern Ireland could vote to leave the United Kingdom.

I’m not even suggesting that this means joining the Republic of Ireland.

The simple fact is that the people of this region have suffered terribly because of the “Troubles”. If I was living there, I would be furious that Johnson’s insensitivity has put NI back in the firing line and would be prepared to consider any alternative to prevent it.

And there’s no reason they would want to stay in the union – Johnson has created a situation where they are actually worse-off, the longer they put up with the current situation.

If Northern Ireland quit the UK but did not join the Republic, Biden would be happy; future violence could be averted. The EU would be happy too – it would make trading much simpler.

The only loser would be Boris Johnson. He would become the prime minister who forced the nation to split – and voters are not likely to forgive him for that.

It would be poetic justice. He thought he could get away with any old rubbish. He thought wrong.

Source: G7: UK and US in complete harmony over Northern Ireland – Boris Johnson – BBC News

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If the Tories knew Northern Ireland protocol was a bad deal then they failed in their duty to the UK

The culprit: Boris Johnson screwed up Brexit by agreeing a trade deal so bad that it could end the fragile peace in Northern Ireland, just because he wanted to hit a deadline he had set for it. And he simply doesn’t care.

According to Tory Lord Barwell, it is wrong for Brexit minister Lord Frost to say the government underestimated the amount of restriction traders would suffer when moving goods to Northern Ireland; Boris Johnson knew the effect would cause serious harm all along.

Barwell says Johnson agreed that part of the Brexit trade deal solely because he “wanted to get Brexit done”.

So he went with a bad deal – knowing that it was bad.

He signed it because he wanted to hit a deadline.

And he signed it, reckless as to the effect it would have on trade in the province.

Worse still, he signed that deal in the knowledge that it would destabilise Northern Ireland and could end the fragile peace that has held there since 1998, because his deal rides roughshod over that deal’s conditions.

That is serious dereliction of duty, if true.

Barwell went on to say he thought Johnson had intended to “wriggle out” of the NI protocol later.

How’s that going for him, then?

Lord Frost, who negotiated the protocol, wrote [that] the UK had sent a “detailed proposal” for a veterinary agreement [but] “we have had very little back” from the EU.

He’s unlikely to get anything more. The EU has fulfilled its responsibility to its member states, and as an added bonus, a former member state that left has managed to create a hugely difficult problem for itself, that may be impossible to resolve.

If Barwell is correct, then the dire deal is entirely Boris Johnson’s fault, and the consequences of that deal – no matter how bad the situation becomes – are his fault as well.

And people were fooled into voting Tory because they were told Jeremy Corbyn would make a mess of Brexit.

Feel free to remind your Tory friends of that – and remind them that it was voting Tory that made sure that Brexit turned into the diabolical fiasco that it has become.

Source: Brexit: UK government knew NI Protocol ‘was a bad deal’ – BBC News

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Mercer sacked over unequal treatment in prosecutions of armed forces veterans

Mercer: it’s right that he should leave the government – but it’s for the wrong reason.

The Minister for Armed Forces Veterans has reported that he has been “relieved of my responsibilities in government” because he disagrees with Tory policy on prosecutions for historic crimes.

This is extremely dodgy ground. It seems clear to This Writer that, if a serving member of the forces has committed a crime while on active duty – but the evidence only comes to light later – they should still face prosecution for it.

The Tory government sees the matter differently and has included in its Overseas Operations Bill measures to protect veterans from prosecution if the alleged crimes were committed more than five years before any allegations are made…

… except for those who served in Northern Ireland. They have been excluded from this measure, meaning long-retired personnel could face imprisonment for alleged crimes committed decades ago.

Nobody deserves to face the extreme distress of court proceedings and possible imprisonment over false allegations, of course.

But nor should anybody receive an automatic free pass if they did commit crimes, no matter how long ago they happened. Think of paedophiles whose abominable practices with children only come to light decades after they took place.

So Mercer is right to go – but he’s going for the wrong reason.

He should be leaving because personnel who served elsewhere are being let off – not because those who served in Northern Ireland are still on the hook.

He should also be leaving because the government hasn’t bothered to devise ways of weeding out unfounded, frivolous or malicious attempts to prosecute veterans, but has instead opted to offer (potentially) amnesty to criminals.

But nobody can say his views weren’t known. He offered to resign from Theresa May’s government in 2019 over the same issue. So it is perhaps unsurprising that he has now left Boris Johnson’s government after it refused to pay attention to his concerns about the same issue.

Of course, we don’t know the exact circumstances yet. First we were told Mercer was on the point of resigning, then we were told he had been sacked, then that he had actually resigned, and then in his resignation letter he said he had been “relieved” of his responsibilities.

Still, this is another departure over government policy, following that of Samuel Kasumu – who actually quit after Boris Johnson’s cronies rewrote a report on institutional racism in order to pretend that it no longer exists in the UK.

We may conclude that the Johnson government is highly prejudiced. Not only is it deeply racist, but it also discriminates against forces personnel depending on where they served.

That’s not a good look for a government that desperately wants to appear friendly to those in the services after years of scandal over veterans who were left homeless after their discharge.

Mercer himself won’t be short of cash after losing this job – if he’s still got his £85,000-a-year job as ‘non-executive director’ of a cyber-security firm.

So don’t worry about him. Worry about people who have been wronged by our armed forces who won’t get justice – and about veterans who are being wronged by a government that is still allowing vexatious prosecutions against them.

Source: Johnny Mercer: Tory MP resigns as defence minister – BBC News

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Comeuppance for Kate: Hoey’s Brexit balderdash get the brush-off – finally

Kate Hoey: either she did not understand what Brexit would mean to Northern Ireland or she didn’tt care. But the people her influence has harmed will not forget.

This has been a long time coming – and not just to Kate Hoey.

The Brexiteer and former Labour MP has been trying to defend her support for the UK leaving the European Union in the flame-light of the burning vehicles in Northern Ireland.

Her reception has been – well, see for yourself. Here’s her tweeted assertion:

“The Protocol” would be the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

Many have pointed out what this means about Hoey’s comment:

Yes indeed – Hoey stated in a Telegraph article that Northern Ireland had much to gain from Brexit, despite the province having voted against leaving the EU (because people there knew it would jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process):

Her article is still available to read:

Now people have simply connected her words then with her words now, and found that they are not persuasive:

But Hoey should not feel that she is the only one feeling the force of Northern Ireland’s (and indeed the rest of the UK’s)… ire:

What’s the best phrase to describe this lot?

Ah, yes: They’re all in it together.

And we should remember that…

… when we seek compensation for what has happened.

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As Stormont politicians meet, Northern Ireland violence escalates

Northern Ireland has now endured more than a week of violence related to Boris Johnson’s duff Brexit deal.

Johnson himself has said the violence in West Belfast “deeply concerned” him. He was right – it did, and it should; he is directly responsible for it.

He was told his decision to put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea would tear up the Good Friday Agreement, triggering an end to the NI peace process and a return to violence – and he did it anyway.

Northern Ireland doesn’t have a single Conservative member of Parliament; nobody in the province voted to be governed by Johnson (or at least, nobody worth mentioning).

The province’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party propped up former prime minister Theresa May, and could therefore be said to have paved the way for him. It holds power in the Stormont assembly so This Writer wonders what its representatives have to say for themselves.

Last night alone, police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.

Here’s how it looked:

Police believe paramilitary groups were involved in incidents such as one in which several hundred people on each side were throwing petrol bombs in both directions in the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Springfield Road.

The Shankill Road and Springfield Road in west Belfast are now added to the list that includes Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and the Waterside area of Londonderry.

The BBC’s report editorialised:

The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to stop.

While it is a comment that should not have been made by a news reporter, This Writer tends to agree with whoever wrote it.

Sadly, with Boris Johnson running the country, he will undoubtedly dither, delay, take a holiday, and probably even hide in a fridge before taking any decisions – and by the time he does, it will probably be too late.

And, as This Site stated yesterday, this is what he wanted. He had been warned repeatedly that it would happen but he did nothing. We have to draw the obvious conclusion from that.

Source: Belfast: Emergency Stormont meeting after night of violence – BBC News

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Northern Ireland is ablaze again. It’s what Boris Johnson wanted and why he lied

Masks and molotov cocktails: Northern Ireland has gone back to this because of Boris Johnson’s Brexit. We can only conclude it’s what the UK prime minister wants.

Is Boris Johnson delighted that his lies have stirred up more Troubles in Northern Ireland.

This Writer reckons he must be.

Why else would he have promised to everybody who would listen that he would make sure they got what they wanted out of Brexit – and then reneged?

Here’s Peter Stefanovic to explain:

Here’s Johnson himself, lying to a gang of Northern Ireland Tories:

And here’s the result:

Note the comment about the UK’s Tory press ignoring this. In fairness, they might have been slow on the uptake but I found a piece on the BBC website easily enough. Under a bland image of the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Stormont, it reported:

The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be recalled early from its Easter break on Thursday to discuss the violence in some loyalist areas.

A petition tabled by the Alliance Party to bring MLAs back to the chamber has secured the 30 signatures required.

Detectives are also investigating parades in Portadown and Markethill on Monday.

Politicians are united in calling for the violence to end, but are divided over why it has erupted.

NI’s first minister, Arlene Foster of the DUP, has flown a kite suggesting that poor policing of the funeral of Bobby Storey, which attracted 2,000 mourners who didn’t socially distance, has caused a collapse of confidence in the province’s Chief Constable, Simon Byrne.

She’s a supporter of Brexit, of course.

Here’s a tweet that answers her claims:

Yes indeed. What Brexiters labelled “Project Fear” is now a reality of life in Northern Ireland. Again. And those of us who warned the rest can only point out the obvious:

But somebody clearly did want them to – and he’s sitting in 10 Downing Street.

Boris Johnson knew what would happen – just as he knew what would happen when he refused to take the big decisions about Covid-19 that were needed between November 2019 and March 2020.

There can be no denial of the facts. He was told this would happen; he ignored the evidence; and now it is happening.

It won’t go away, because unlike those in mainland Britain, people in Northern Ireland are used to expressing their anger in highly visible, public, and violent ways.

And they won’t care about any laws Johnson might pass that ban demonstrations, parades, rallies and marches either!

For This Writer, it is extremely depressing. I’m old enough to remember the Troubles. I remember being ordered out of a shopping centre because of an IRA bomb in a shop there.

That device was discovered and defused, but I also remember seeing the results when bombs elsewhere were allowed to detonate.

I remember the deaths, the injuries, the recriminations and the resentments.

I know Boris Johnson remembers them too.

But he seems hell-bent on stirring them all up again. So can someone please remind us all why anybody thought it was a good idea to elect him? “But Corbyn” won’t cut it because Corbyn would never have done anything that could lead to this.

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Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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Tory blames Covid for Northern Ireland trade problems & admits it would have been better to stay in EU

Empty shelves: in fact this shot  is from the shortages when people were panic-buying before the first Covid lockdown. It should therefore be no surprise that Brandon Lewis is using Covid as an excuse for the consequences of Brexit.

How else are we to interpret Brandon Lewis’s admission that the European Union’s Single Market offers a “competitive advantages”?

Wasn’t the UK supposed to become more competitive by leaving the EU?

Lewis was responding to complaints that hundreds of products have disappeared from supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

According to the Belfast Telegraph,

Hundreds of products have disappeared in shops, many online sellers have stopped supplying NI customers, and freight hauliers report bottlenecks caused by new EU paperwork needed before lorries can board ferries from Great Britain.

Lewis said the shortages were due to Covid-19, not Brexit. But we all expected that, didn’t we?

If that’s the case, then why this post-Brexit disruption when traders had been promised unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

He said – well, hear it for yourself. As an added bonus, you get Peter Stefanovic demonstrating that Lewis was lying:

In another interview, on Radio 4’s Today programme, he undermined the entire argument for leaving the European Union at all:

Wow.

Okay.

In that case, let’s challenge Lewis to put it to the test.

If he thinks Brexit has put Northern Ireland at a “competitive advantage”, let’s see him go there and stand in front of a supermarket explaining to disappointed shoppers why they are now better-off.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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