Monday, July 2, 2012

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Parsimony Hiding Behind Legalese

Peadar Heffron was a member of the PSNI in January 2010 when armed republicans inflicted serious injuries on him as he drove his car to work at Woodbourne PSNI station in West Belfast. It was a calculated attempt to end his life. That he survived was due to surgical skill rather than frail intent on the part of those who attached the booby trap device to his vehicle.

As convoluted as the thinking behind the attack was, it is not isolated from equally illogical companions, two of which were on display in the media today. If the ELO were to put a musical backdrop to it they might call it Strange Logic.

The first challenge to common sense came courtesy of the Industrial Injuries Tribunal. It seems cruel enough that Peadar Heffron should lose a leg at the hands of people who regard him as an enemy but to lose compensation at the hands of those who ostensibly regard him as a friend seems to have callousness written all over it. For the body to use the excuse that he was not on duty at the time seems parsimony hiding behind legalese. He was driving to work when the explosion that deprived him of his limb occurred. Technicalities being conjured up to avoid forking up.

Off duty for a cop is a social fiction. In a different circumstance had he have used the off duty excuse as justification for not going to the assistance of a distressed member of the public, he would have been off duty sharpish, never to be back on it. Would one of the North’s juryless courts fail to convict on a charge of attempting to kill a police officer were the accused to argue that the target was off duty?

The second piece of limited thinking, if not actually dubious per se, came when Pat Sheehan of Sinn Fein was interviewed on RTE. He was very critical of the decision not to award compensation, arguing that it will send out the wrong message to the armed republicans who attacked Peadar Heffron. As wrong as the message being sent out happens to be, it is hardly more egregious than the message Pat Sheehan was seeking to send out in April 1989 when he was captured trying to attach a booby trap device to a gate at Grosvenor Road RUC station. Colleagues of Peadar Heffron could easily have been killed or maimed had that attack not been compromised by one of the IRA’s many Belfast informers.

There would appear to be no more justification for Pat Sheehan having tried to take the lives of members of the police force than there is justification for those who sought to kill Peader Heffron. And if there is, many republicans would like to hear it spelled out. Arguably had not people like Pat Sheehan been trying to blow cops to pieces in 1989, the detonator would not have been passed on and picked up by today’s bombers. Legitimacy, like Tallyrand’s treason, is seemingly a matter of dates. Moreover, there must be many colleagues of Peadar Heffron who would like it explained why it is not alright for armed republicans to maim him but sort of alright for Pat Sheehan to have maimed them.

Pat Sheehan should face no criticism for his rejection of physical force republicanism. But in his rejection an awful lot is left unexplained. Any probing in search of more understanding is viewed by his party as unhelpful to the peace process.  Yet the absence of a rounded more reasoned explanation reinforces the weakness with which any moral brake is applied to the mindset that continues to feel it is okay to kill cops.

Meanwhile Peadar Heffron, confined to a wheelchair, maimed and disfigured, has insult added to injury. Bureaucrats, equipped with a pencil that has an erazer at each end, trying to rub out his rights while sketching in their lack of obligation; failing miserably on both counts.

26 comments :

truthrevisionist said...

Peadar Heffron 'took the shilling' and swallowed the whole bullshit story of 'peace process and equality',when better men with principles intact, turned the other way,rather than join H.M.PSNI-owned by brits,run by brits,administered by PSF wannabe brits. You see,you cannot join this bunch of establishment gangsters and hope to be treated with equality,when they're laughing at your naive,weak,subservient demeanour.After all,THEY won the war-thanks to PSF. 'Compensation? Fuck off mate,didnt we give you a job.What more did you expect? Remember your place paddy.' And what if it had happened to a government minister on his way to work?

itsjustmacker said...

are they Not just like British Service People on duty 24/7, whether in or out of uniform?. Oooops, I forgot, They are British, Has he not been rejected because of His Name?.
Poor Pat Sheehan, was he not lucky the bomb did not explode premature?, that was the norm when bombs were compromised. Someone was sure as hell looking Down on him!. but surely the RUC's Normal response was, Shoot and ask questions later!, so once again Luck was on his side!.
No doubt they will give Peadar the full compensation which he is entitled to, they do not want to lose face, I wonder if they will call for a full public inquiry as to why he was refused his compensation in the first place,Matt Baggot says he is entitled to it.

John McGirr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John McGirr said...

I have deleted my last post. It was small-minded and not called for. Apologies.

marty said...

I,m hearing that Gerry Mc Geough has lost his latest appeal and there is some mention of missing documents , sounds familiar.Peadar Heffron bought the qsf crap and paid a heavy price,Adams Mc Guinness ,Sheehan are as guilty imo as those who planted the device that fucked up his day,they may have decommissioned the weapons but not the minds,

AM said...

John,

decent gesture.

SPON said...

This is a thought provoking piece. Yes, Mr Heffron should have got full compensation. I don't think anyone, really, would disagree with that.

So the main discussion point is around Mr Sheehan's actions. He was trying to kill police officers. Incidentally, he was trying to kill police officers about a four minute walk from my granny's house - which would have caused massive distress and inconvenience to a large number of people. But essentially PSF’s stance is that killing RUC officers was justified whilst killing PSNI officers is not. PSF’s stance in 1989, as most people on this blog will know, is that the IRA Army Council represented a legal governing body and that RUC officers were corrupt cogs of an Imperialistic wheel that occupied an illegitimate 6 county statelet. The RIRA/ONH stance is that they are the true inheritors of this legal governing body and that PSNI officers are corrupt cogs of an Imperialistic wheel that occupied an illegitimate 6 county statelet.

In the strictest academic sense, using PSF’s former arguments, Mr Heffron’s assailants are as justified or as unjustified as Mr Sheehan was. There is no difference. British police officers in Ireland will also be targets for revolutionaries.

Revolutions occur when revolutionary conditions arise. By 1989, did the conditions justify the actions of Mr Sheehan? Was the RUC of 1989 different from the RUC of 1969? Who were/are the IRA to decide?

I’m asking these questions looking for answers, because my own thoughts are that Mr Sheehan’s actions, whilst still unjustifiable, are at least more understandable and less reprehensible than Mr Heffron’s assailants.

Boyne Rover said...

AM
Great post I agree completely with everything you have said this a complete travesty of justice after all the guy was going to work doing his duty shame on them I hope the Great Trade Unions make a stance on this .
John oh John what happened to your Christian beliefs, did you put them to one side for a second and show us the true John Mc Girr. You have only proved to a great majority of people what religion does to people. This is one of the reasons people stay away from all the religious freaks they don’t want to become infected

tiarna said...

An appalling and indignant treatment of a man who was seriously injured because he choose to serve the state.

The British Army way of doing things was to use experienced and battle hardened veterans of past wars to train new recruits. The new recruits learned the hard way that the'war' tactics did not transfer to any modern battle scenerios that they encountered. Thus generations of British Soldiers have accurately observed that they had only been trained to fight the last war. Same is true for Dissidents --only they bemoan that they should still be allowed to fight using the tactics of the IRA.

The Scenerio of Pat Sheehan is not a good one because it detaches him from how the Conflict he was involved in came about in 1969. The circumstances and conditions that prevailed throughout the creation of the 6 county statelet and the vicious backlash of Unionism in its attempts to restore and maintain their supremacy no longer exist.

AM said...

SPON

‘... my own thoughts are that Mr Sheehan's actions, whilst still unjustifiable, are at least more
understandable and less reprehensible than Mr Heffron's assailants.’

Presuming this is true, you have not spelled out why in your comment. If anything they comparisons you draw between army council 89 and today’s leaderships tend towards a conclusion that Pat Sheehan’s actions were not any different from today’s. If they are different in terms of legitimacy then that needs explained. Somebody has to argue plausibly why there is a difference to such an extent that it obviates any justification or even mitigation for killing cops. Those republicans who do not agree with SF but remain resolutely opposed to shooting cops need to be able to explain without resort to a self serving SF narrative what the difference is. Either that or they simply say killing cops was wrong then and it is wrong today.
I talked to an ex cop once who described being at a funeral of one of his colleagues and the children screaming as their father was brought out of the house. It sent the same shudder through me as did IRA funerals or other funerals I had attended where that terrible wail pierces the being. If people want to justify killing cops they need to think an awful lot more about the wider consequences of it than we ever did. Ideologies that make killing appear the right thing to do, that even make it easy to do, need to be put through the most stringent tests available. I don’t see how republican ideology can pass that test.

Boyne Rover,

Thanks for that.

‘This is one of the reasons people stay away from all the religious freaks they don't want to become infected.’

They prompt people into disbelieving what they want believed.

John McGirr said...

Boyne Rover,

'John oh John what happened to your Christian beliefs, did you put them to one side for a second and show us the true John Mc Girr.'

I deleted my post not because it conflicted with my religion, but I just felt the joke was tasteless.

It was not in the least against my religion, why would it be?

I certainly would not want to be infected by your desire to reward a native traitor.

itsjustmacker said...

John Mc Girr, Said.

I certainly would not want to be infected by your desire to reward a native traitor.

Don't be shocked at this John.

I Agree with you on that one 100%.

John McGirr said...

itsjustmacker,

'Don't be shocked at this John.

I Agree with you on that one 100%.'

LOL, it is always a shock when anyone agrees with me!

Alfie said...

Though very busy, I have tried to follow John McGirr battling all comers on the PQ recently. I never agree with him (except on Sinead O'Connor), but I find it hard not to admire the courage of his convictions. I know he won't like the analogy, but he reminds me of what Sean O Faolain said of the RIC:

"They had their loyalties and they stuck to them."

John McGirr said...

Thanks, Alfie, I think, lol.
Hope your studies are going well.

Boyne Rover said...

John Mc Girr
Itsjustamacker
Have been trying to figure out what a Native Traitor might be would really love to see the answer

itsjustmacker said...

Boyne Rover.

Will i tell you, It is not you, But i will let John answer for himself.
My Reply is;
Looking at your Post about Peadar Heffron , you fully support him , I don't, I hope that answers your question, Everyone is entitled to there own opinion, is that not what blogging and debating is all about.

Boyne Rover said...

Itsjustamacker
No problem I fully agree everyone to their own opinion, I can only relate to the human side of the story, Love or hate the uniform he should still be compensated for his ordeal that’s the trade union way in any democracy. The people that had relatives slaughtered in Omagh got compensated for being in way of Irelands great freedom fighters why not the PSNI guy that’s my take on it

itsjustmacker said...

Boyne Rover.

As you can see from my original post, I did State, as he was a member of the security forces, and, they are classed as being on duty 24/7 that they should pay him what he was entitled to due to the security situation which still exists. I have nothing against the bloke personally, he was just one of those who took the PSF bait, now that the marching season is upon us, He might have been one of those Guarding an orange parade passing the ardoyne shops and Ardoyne citizens are refused permission to a peaceful and democratic parade within its own area against these Bigoted Orange parades. All this should have been sorted out at the GFA,(Got Fu*k All) by PSF. So its back to Orange Domination, except, it has never left us. I hope Peadar gets more than he deserves.

John McGirr said...

Boyne Rover,

'Have been trying to figure out what a Native Traitor might be would really love to see the answer'

An Irish man who collaborates with British rule in Ireland. Take your pick, history is littered with them. Peadar Heffron fits the bill.

itsjustmacker said...

John.

In that case we can truly call PSF traitors, because, and i reluctantly have to say this, Peadar Heffron was one of thousands who thought things were going to change, (On the words of PSF) and Joined the RUC/PSNI, others joined the British Army, So, who do we blame, The People who were hoodwinked into believing everything was going to change, that we had peace at last?, or, PSF for accepting the Queens Shilling and Knew that nothing had changed, except for them being elected by those who fought and survived, and, the piss on all those who died, especially those ten brave men of 81. I would believe the Peadar's, because they thought they were doing the correct thing, now PSF MLA's are telling people to inform on those people who put them in power. The pots at boiling point at the moment, and, I cant wait to see Kelly's face in Ardoyne when GARC demonstration starts, I'm sure he wil remain behind RUC/PSNI lines; AGAIN. and point out so called agitators, the quisling's.

John McGirr said...

Itsjustmacker,

‘In that case we can truly call PSF traitors, because, and i reluctantly have to say this, Peadar Heffron was one of thousands who thought things were going to change, (On the words of PSF) and Joined the RUC/PSNI,…’

I take your point and agree that PSF are traitors. It must be noted though that Heffron joined the police at least five years before PSF capitulated over policing. Having said that people were encouraged even prior to that, so all in all, most of the responsibility lies with the erstwhile Republicans in the leadership of PSF. To that extent, Heffron was just another victim of ruthless traitors who would sell anything and everything for their own gain.

Alfie said...

John,

To what or to whom is Peader Heffron a traitor? It cannot be to the Irish people, for the vast majority of them are on his side.

John McGirr said...

Alfie,

‘To what or to whom is Peader Heffron a traitor? It cannot be to the Irish people, for the vast majority of them are on his side.’

You may or may not be right about the ‘vast majority’ of the Irish people being on the side of Heffron. It has to be at least a possibility that a majority within a nation at a given time can be wrong. It is not something that we can measure.

But we do know that those who take up arms for Britain are traitors to everything of value. They have above all betrayed the dead generations who have given their lives to stake the claims of the Irish Nation. They are traitors to Ireland, to freedom, to her exiled peoples past and present throughout the world.

These collaborators are traitors to the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the control of their destinies; to the right of the Irish people to national freedom and sovereignty.

They are traitors to those who gave everything for the Irish Republic, which is entitled to the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.

They have acted against the common good of the legitimate Irish Republic and have shown themselves unworthy of the destiny to which they were called.

Alfie said...

John,

Do the people of Ireland have the right to make their own decisions - yes or no?

John McGirr said...

Alfie,

‘Do the people of Ireland have the right to make their own decisions - yes or no?’

Much as I love to see things in ‘black and white’,‘yes and no’, this is not a question that can be answered that way. It is like saying do I have a right to abandon my wife and family? Of course I have a legal right; but, I do not have a moral right.

The people of Ireland have a weight on their shoulders of all who have gone before them. Is it possible that one day they could be so beaten into submission that they betray that sacred trust and the Irish Nation dies? I think that is a logical possibility, but it has not reached that yet, and hopefully never will.