Prompted by concerns over the Christy Walsh hunger strike by, Sean Mallory ridicules the claims of the Stormont Justice Ministry to be delivering justice. Sean Mallory from Tyrone is a wry and sometimes caustic observer of politics both nationally and internationally.
Prosecution not Persecution
You can have any colour you like as long as it is black – Henry Ford
It is easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor – John Ford
I am Republican therefore I am guilty. Of what, whatever the State decides, for they are free from scrutiny to produce evidence to suit the crime and thus me - Response to David Ford’s tenure as Minister for Justice.
There are many well renowned Fords in the relative recent history of this world. Some built cars and determined the public’s choice of colour, some made films and determined the public’s choice of cowboy while more currently, those other Fords of extremely limited worldly prominence, i.e., David Ford – Minister for Justice, who oversees the implementation of justice, have determined the public’s choice of justice by resorting to their own subjective politically influenced observations in their decision making. Observations based on politically motivated information from institutions who are supposedly under the same Office’s watchful eye.
But Ford is not seen to be running amok on his own. He has the full support of all parties at Stormont and is regularly featured in the press as being one of the few popular ministers on the Hill. Justice is being seen to being served now that Ford is at the wheel. But what is the reality?
On closer examination, we find that Ford's focus mainly on reducing the legal aid bill would appear to have distracted his Office from apparent numerable miscarriages of justice and blatant political expediency especially when dealing with Republicans. In the case of Christy Walsh, Ford’s astonishing remark for a minister of justice,n"If Walsh's application succeeds it may gain a higher profile and raise questions over other convictions" only further accentuates that his focus is not on justice being served, which is the primary objective of his office but on preserving the reputation of the PPS, the PSNI and his department both current and historically. He is also most damningly, publicly admitting that he is aware of miscarriages of justice or at least those that are ‘suspect’ to miscarriages of justice and isn’t prepared to act for the sake of reputation.
Other prominent cases such as the Craigavon Two and the trial by media of Colin Duffy are all too often the norm now. Duffy disparaged and demeaned by the media has yet to be found guilty of anything yet the public is constantly berated about his evilness and regularly presented with printed photographs of him looking at his worst ... no First Communion photos here. And all to turn the public against them before they are tried. Expediency not justice.
Omagh is about to befall us and after a long and lengthy deliberation the PPS have decided to prosecute. Their evidence, from what we can gain from press reports, is extremely limited and narrow and under normal circumstances any other PPS would drop the case but political expediency demands a trial, so we must endure the charade of justice being served. The accused, once presumed innocent until proven guilty, like Duffy and the media, now finds himself in the undesirable position of having to prove himself not guilty.
But what of the PPS and the PSNI? Why would they feel confident to proceed after a long and lengthy deliberation on the weight of the evidence in securing a conviction? Like the Craigavon Two and Duffy, the PPS, under the poacher's coaching, have been given carte blanche by Sinn Fein and the SDLP to pursue and prosecute all and any republicans who do not tow the Stormont line. There is no need for concrete evidence when you have been given the 'green' light to act in whatever manner deemed necessary to remove enemies of the peace process from the public domain.
We cannot solely blame the PPS/PSNI. The blame for these gross miscarriages of justice lies squarely at the doors of the SDLP and Sinn Fein – not Unionism for its unqualified support of the these institutions has never wavered irrespective of what hideous actions they have been accused of and Unionism to state the obvious does not claim to represent Nationalism. And it is Nationalists/Republicans that are suffering these injustices, not Unionists. The claim by Unionists of a few rotten apples in the system flounders when the orchard, is perceived by those who suffer at its hands and who it supposedly serves, to be rotten and thus its produce in the barrel.
The institutions of the PPS and PSNI have always been and always will be under Britain, corrupt towards Nationalists/Republicans so these particular actions should not be viewed as abnormal but quite traditional. The SDLP have always supported the rule of law and order even when their constituents were being murdered by those same forces. Their acceptance of the British State and its institutions as having a legitimate right to exercise their authority here unhindered has only allowed that same State and its institutions to behave in such a prejudiced manner. Where is Seamus Mallon who stood with the Birmingham Six to see justice prevail against the root of this very same system? Is there only justice available to those of a particular political persuasion or is Mallon fearful of the stigma of being aligned with Irish Republicanism and its perceived detrimental effect on his public persona, deliberately quite selective in aligning his support and that of the SDLP to specific cases that at plain sight are destined to be over-turned and thus enhancing his reputation at the expense of a true fight for justice?
Sinn Fein, in its apology to Britain for having the temerity to wage a war of independence against Britain, opened the door of resistance and heartily embraced and welcomed in these British institutions which were once held at bay. Adams on apologising, whether with sincerity or not, by doing so announced that Irish republicans were wrong and at fault. From then on, the condemnation and scorn poured forthright unchallenged on to the heads of Irish Republicanism for their bloody waged war left them in no doubt where they stood. There was only one to blame for the ‘Troubles’ and it was them. And as such, when demonised to such an extent as they have been, who could expect justice to be served on their behalf? Who cares about a rat in a laboratory? Now fully embraced by Adams and Co those same institutions once guilty of prejudice and injustice against Sinn Fein and its supporters now serve those same people in providing a means to remove any and all opposition. Why question the integrity or query the moral standing of such a useful mechanism when those who publicly question ‘Stormont’ are quickly dealt with by it.
Ford, being part of Stormont, has no need to worry about being called to account. His limited and ineffective tenure as Minister of Justice for all at best can be described as incompetent or at worst as maintaining the status quo of old which is tantamount to the abject failure of the purpose of his office in the first place.
While political ulterior motives and blind devotion are the foundation stones of the administration of justice here, justice in its true sense cannot be seen to be achieved and those institutions that administer it will continue to discredit its value here while they are not held to proper account by those who give them their approval nor while the seat of office established to ensure justice is served is held by a person with one eye on costs and the other on his public image.
On unexpectedly discussing this situation in the company of a lawyer of many years’ experience and whose occupation was initially unknown to me, I was informed by this person in a most condescending manner that McGrory has done wonders for Nationalists. When asked to elaborate and clarify on this, I was once again patronisingly informed that as I wasn’t a lawyer I wouldn’t understand the mechanisms of the law and how it operates. Quite true of my ignorance of the law but then my response abruptly ended the discussion – “I have one thing though on my side and that is that I have the ability to read!”
And it is with this ability that I am able to discern reality from fiction. Walsh, Duffy and the Craigavon Two are the more public cases of injustice and I take the time to make them aware that they have my sincere support and that I wish them and their families well in their respective quests – good luck.