Tommy McKearney is scathing of the British legal system that has so perniciously targeted Christy Walsh. Tommy McKearney is a former republican prisoner who understands the workings of a Diplock court.
The Northern Irish judiciary has a long, long distance to travel before it can make any claim to have a serious purchase on the concept of justice. For the past 42 years the 6-County state has maintained a court system that carries out its tasks with; one judge, no jury and inverted rules of evidence. This profoundly undemocratic practice was established in 1973 on the recommendation of former senior member of British Intelligence, Kenneth Diplock.
The rationale for this affront to democratic norm was political from the outset with the British government determined to deem criminal, what the world could see was an insurrection within the borders of the United Kingdom. Even the senior Tory and then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw recognised the dubious ground on which the system was based. Prior to its introduction he said, "Given the cessation of violence for political ends in Northern Ireland, the Government will be only too glad to see these provisions brought to an end."
Yet 21 years after the first IRA ceasefire and 17 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the Diplock court system remains in place and the judiciary’s aversion to dispense with it remains rock solid. Not only that but the Northern Irish courts have added to their draconian powers through the use of indeterminate sentencing, or preventative detention in other words.
No surprise therefore that the case of Christy Walsh (see ) is one of many that continues to blight what passes for a legal system in the North of Ireland. The indifference with which this case is being treated is symptomatic of all that is wrong with a pernicious system that deserves to be held up to the most intense scrutiny and subjected thereafter to the harshest of denunciations.