Saturday, January 3, 2015

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Unbent Unbowed Unbroken.

Pauline Mellon with a piece form The Diary of  Derry Mother. The author is a rights activist and justice campaigner in the North West.

As we approach the 43rd anniversary of what became known as Bloody Sunday it is important this year that with one loud voice to let it be known that closed door deals are no substitute for justice. The recent announcement of how dealing with the past will now include limited immunity has come as a severe yet not unexpected blow for families and campaigners who continue in their quest for justice.
On December 23rd on what would have been the birthday of William Nash who at 19 years was murdered on Bloody Sunday, our elected representatives struck a deal in their latest facade of dealing with the past. This new process involves the formation of a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU)and an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) to investigate outstanding troubles related deaths.

It is claimed these new units will enable people to seek and receive information on the past in private with this information said to be inadmissible in court proceedings unless the information comes from another source at which point a person can be prosecuted. It could be considered that this process is designed to serve a select few with the previous instrument for dealing with the past (the HET) having been exposed as a whitewash worthy of Widgery.
With the information allegedly inadmissible in court unless provided by another party, then could the recent interview given by a member of the parachute regiment to the BBC Spotlight programme be used to secure his prosecution? In this interview the member stated he had no regrets and would do it again. Surely this evidence is enough to spark the interest of the Public Prosecution Service.

Failing this, if I was to take a copy of this interview to the local police station, or present it to the HIU would this then qualify as secondary evidence would it even lead to his arrest? At a wild guess I would say the answer is no as these people had carte blanche to act with impunity whilst they rampaged through the Bogside gunning down fleeing civilians and shooting them as they lay wounded on the ground.

Forty years on and a generation later the physical blood of innocent victims that spilled on to the streets of Derry's Bogside may have been washed away by the people of Derry but the truth is until “justice is done and seen to be done” as promised in the Good Friday Agreement, the wound inflicted on the people of Derry remains open. This latest attempt to deal with the past does not and will not benefit the families of all victims.
In his statement in the Dail on Tuesday February 1st 1972 the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch demanded an immediate withdrawal of British troops, a cessation of harassment of the minority population and an end to internment without trial. He further added that: “The Government are satisfied that nothing less can bring about peace. We also believe that these proposals will put an end to violence.” Sadly 43 years on the issues remain the same only today under the watchful eye of the Northern Ireland Assembly who promote peace through what appears to be an endless process, and the Free State Government, well, they continue to operate as a surrogate child of Britain.

The recent announcement by the Free State Government that they are to appeal the case of the Hooded Men in the European Court only came when the Hooded Men threatened to take them to court, at which point they had no choice but to act. Then again the Free state Government are internationally known for being complicit in torture by allowing American rendition flights to stop in Ireland for refuelling.

It's obvious that Governments will utter words to give the impression they are proactive in addressing failings, yet the truth is, unless people speak with a unified voice then once elected they will ignore the people...until the next round of promises.
On the release of the Saville report in 2010 the British Prime Minister David Cameron in his speech acknowledged the following:

Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.
This acknowledgement was warmly welcomed by the people of Derry many of whom, no doubt believed that justice would be the next step.

In his speech David Cameron acknowledged that the support company as he referred to the parachute regiment murdered people who were injured when:
“clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying. The report refers to one person who was shot while crawling away from the soldiers. Another was shot in all probability when he was lying mortally wounded on the ground.”

Civilians and civilian objects are protected under the laws of armed conflict by the principle of distinction. Under this principle, parties to an armed conflict must always distinguish between civilians and civilian objects on the one hand, and combatants and military targets. With innocent victims being shot as they lay wounded in my book this constitutes a war crime.

Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as:
Wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including... wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial ... taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

The above article would seem to cover a mass multitude of issues past and present.

Yet the best the powers that be and want to be can offer in these circumstances is yet another closed shop session. It would seem that we have closed shops to assist with evading justice and closed shops to help secure convictions all of which are in breach of the core principals of common law but hey why would this bother them!

The past and indeed the present are somewhat of a grey area here in the north and at a guess some people will never get the justice they truly deserve. That said they are entitled to justice, just as we are all entitled to processes which are open and transparent not forgetting “measures compatible with a normal and peaceful society” as outlined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Helen, Kate and Linda with the late Gerry Conlon.

On February 1st this year three women who have more integrity in their little fingers than there is among our decision makers will continue with their annual March for Justice helped along by campaigners. These women made a decision to continue marching with other Bloody Sunday family members on the 40th anniversary despite a campaign of vilification.

Finally I would take this opportunity to call on all supporters of justice to attend this years March for Justice in solidarity with all victims of state abuse, past and present.

The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.
Lois McMaster Bujold


marty said...

If under the proposed leglislation information collected or given to the HIU or ICIR by a third party people may be charged with troubles related offences ,fuck me a lot of people will be hoping that Adams and his cronies in quisling $inn £eind die soon,or as they said in the film "WE ARE GONNA NEED A BIGGER JAIL"

Mary Quigley said...