Jude Collins

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Red herrings and back where we started

I’m just off the Nolan Show, where my sparring partner Malachi O’Doherty managed for a time to claim that the last few days have been about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the IRA campaign. Anyone who’s ever read Malachi will know he believes it was illegitimate and never loses a chance to say so. His views are shared by thousands of unionists. Equally, there are thousands of republicans who think their campaign was not illegitimate and has direct links with the insurgency that developed in 1916 and the years following, and which will be commemorated and paid tribute to by people all over Ireland in three short years from now.

But as I say, the debate should not have been about Malachi’s red herring. It should have been about whether it was right that a law was passed last night which will eject Paul Kavanagh as special adviser to Martin McGuinness. My belief is that it should not, for several reasons. 

One is that this looks suspiciously like double jeopardy, where someone gets punished for what the state pronounces a crime and then, years later, is punished again. Countries like Canada, Mexico, the US believe that protection from double jeopardy is so important, they’ve built it into their constitution. Even Britain, which a few years back jettisoned the double jeopardy protection, still requires “new and compelling evidence” before someone can be tried again. Was there new and compelling evidence in Paul Kavanagh’s case? No. 

Jim Allister claimed yesterday that the bill should be known as ‘Ann’s Law’. I disagree. The two people who were true parents of last night’s bill were Jim Allister and Alasdair McDonnell. In a time when we’re told  we must try to put the old quarrels of the past behind us, when we are told the emphasis must be on creating jobs,  the Allister-Alasdair bill has hurled us back into the past, where old quarrels are resurrected, spitefulness and discrimination rule the day, and rather than create jobs, the law sees that someone is kicked out of his job. 

But it’s not bad news for everyone. This morning the dissident republicans must be licking their lips and saying: “See? We told you so. Nothing has changed”.


  1. So what? Paul excluded others on behalf of DFM. Paul helped administer OFM // DFM rule in NI? Was this political machine Paul operated a model of openness and transparency? I think not, the NI Assembly is a model for social exclusion and soft power marginalization. Let us not forget the cadres of stay behinds when harsh words and exclusion just aren't enough.

    Let’s nail the lie that OFM // DFM only exclude violent extremists. (Although the exclusion of violent extremists guarantees the troubles will start again. You do make peace with people who agree with you.)
    1. They exclude the public from knowing who funds parties and contributes to policy decisions.
    2. They exclude victims from both communities from knowing who killed their relatives, especially if intelligence handlers might have a hand in it.
    3. They exclude intelligence services from scrutiny on policing past and present.
    4. They exclude the NI Assembly from debating policy properly.

    ‘They don’t have a say in all that,’ I hear you say, but they don’t walk away, do they? So they acquiesce in it. They are the overt excluders, but a whole range of covert exclusions also exist.

    This move isn't the wisest way to highlight the corrupt and toothless administration in Stormont.

    It proves we don’t have an Agreement; we have a conditional tokenism elevated to virtue. We have a vicious campaign suppression of freedom of speech by the parties now wincing about their rights. I don’t think anyone should lose their jobs, but how many non-violent Sinn Fein opponents find their disagreement consequence free? Not many. I think sympathy may be in short supply, it certainly is in my house.

  2. Surely Malachy has a right to express his opinion which is actually shared by more than Unionists.As this was the Nolan Show,you were hardly likely to be able to control the debate,much as you would have liked.Just as a matter of interest,do you believe that the I R A campaign was legitimate .You must have a view.Presumably Mr Kavanagh will be seeking legal advice and it may be that your interesting "double jeopardy " theory will be one of the aspects explored if the action comes to court .

  3. I'm not in favour of this Bill. Exclusion and playing politics with victims won't move the political process forward.

    SF would have more of my support on this issue had they not taken the politically expedient move in removing Mary McArdle from her position in the first place.

  4. odoherty is an uncle tom and a complete hypocrite.he bleats about political criminals while he himself took a job in gadaffis libya.the late colonel had a much more positive attitude to the provos

  5. Stephen Blacker4 June 2013 at 22:55

    Jude, the IRA and their voice in Sinn Fein do not believe they did anything wrong with their bombs and murders and your statement, "what the state pronounces as a crime" above leaves me thinking you are coming from that point of view too. Malachy was correct this morning saying what he did because it comes down to this that Sinn Fein can do what they want because they and their friends did nothing wrong.

    The facts are that this Bill would never have passed if Ann Travers had not convinced the SDLP not to sign a Petition of Concern and it also denies people with more than 5 years jail sentences from doing a total of 7 jobs in all of Northern Ireland. I say 7 because that is the number Sinn Fein have control of, no doubt they could have 100's of people to choose from that were never caught while becoming hero's in their community.

    I do not think Special Advisers are needed with all the other staff in Stormont and all 19 positions should be open to transparant rules. The Tax Payer should at least know where their money is going and to whom, £70 - 90,000 a year plus pension and perks is a lot for most people.

    The main thing that has come from this issue is that Sinn Fein do not care about any victims other than those murdered by people other than the PIRA. You like to continue the spin of double jeopardy, the people mentioned will always be "on licence" as all murders that have been caught are. I understand lots of people do not see these people as criminals but lots of others do, I will not be surprised if the people involved are amoung the election candidates for Sinn Fein next time. Justice done Hey Jude!

  6. Double jeopardy? It's perfectly normal for serious criminals with unspent convictions to be disqualified from certain jobs.

  7. I am not a lawyer but I believe that the Good Friday Agreement, consented to by two Heads of Government on behalf of their respective citizens and parliaments, would enjoy the status of an International Agreement and thus 'ultra vires' for the chaps in the the place on the hill. Should we expect a legal challenge?