A devastating analysis of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Gerry Adams case

For years now the News Letter has been highlighting the grim saga of how the legacy of terror has turned against a state that prevented it.

Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 9:01 am
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 10:36 am
News Letter editorial

Our coverage and some of our regular contributors such as Trevor Ringland and Doug Beattie and Jim Allister and William Matchett, and all the several dozen people who took part in our Legacy Scandal series of essays, have pointed out one travesty of a development after another, typically that demonises the security forces, while IRA atrocities largely escape scrutiny — and their culprits certainly escape charges, while six low-ranking soldiers face murder trials.

The Supreme Court ruling that Gerry Adams’s internment had been unlawful however was one of an increasing number of turning points where wider patience seems to be snapping (see links below).

Mr Ringland wrote a powerful article calling for a dedicated team of detectives to be set up to investigate IRA leaders, and Jeff Dudgeon said the court had seemed to fail to take account of the context of the internment legislation. The fact that Mr Adams is reported to have got legal aid has also caused deep concern.

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Now the scale of the anger at this judgment has moved up a gear.

The Supreme Court ruling is the subject of a devastating 20,000 analysis for the influential London think-tank Policy Exchange, explicitly describing the decision as wrong in its conclusion that a secretary of state had to sign an internment order.

This is plainly not so, say Professor Richard Ekins and Sir Stephen Laws (see opposite page in the print edition for summary article, or link to it below, as well as a link to a news story on their analysis) and indeed it runs a coach and horses through a key principle of government, the ability to delegate such decisions.

Extraordinarily, they are so appalled that they are calling for an urgent change in legislation, and have been backed by a former head of the UK civil service, Lord Butler.

It is very rare indeed that the most senior judges in the land are so bluntly and publicly assessed to be wrong in a ruling that leading academics and officials back a swift change in the law.

We can only hope that London, which is perpetually weak around republican sensitivities, acts as suggested.

And also that the government finally puts pressure on terrorists, as Mr Ringland sensibly suggests, but which it shows no sign of doing in its apologetic retreat from the bad, perhaps even disastrous, Stormont House legacy proposals.

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Alistair Bushe