Senator Michael McDowell, a former justice minister within the Irish government recently made a staggering admission within an opinion column penned for the Irish Times.
In it he stated; “In this state, a de facto moratorium on investigation and prosecution of IRA members (other than those described as dissidents) came into operation.
“This was demanded by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the leaders of Sinn Féin at the time. And it was conceded. Every Troubles-related murder, bombing and maiming is, on paper, a serious offence in this State by reason of the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976.
“But the Irish government of which I was a member took the decision that further investigation and prosecution by An Garda Síochána of such historic offences was no longer warranted or justified by reason of the greater interest in ending the Provisional campaign and all other political violence in Northern Ireland.
“And so, as far as this State was concerned, a line was drawn across the page of historic Provisional IRA criminality in Northern Ireland”.
Here we have in black and white a public confession from a former Irish government minister that the Irish state have operated a de facto amnesty policy in respect of pre 1998 Troubles crimes for the last 23 years.
This is an admission of the Irish state’s failure to live up to its Article 2 obligations as demanded within the European Convention on Human Rights, a convention with enshrined rights that it has consistently championed, often attacking the UK state over its alleged failures to live up to the convention or indeed to seek withdrawal from it.
These admissions from Michael McDowell have very serious implications and make a mockery of the position being taken currently by the Irish government on legacy as well as the public and private positions of the Provisional republican movement (inclusive of Sinn Fein).
Over the coming days we will be seeking meetings with representatives of the Irish government and senior officials within the Department of Justice and Department of Foreign Affairs.
As a group we demand that any new legacy process enshrined would make null and void any previous practices which have been administered by either the UK or RoI state’s with the objective of manipulating and subverting the criminal justice system.
This means legislatively rescind the On The Run assurance letters, the Royal Prerogatives of Mercy handed out to known activists in terrorism and to re-state the principles of criminal justice pursuance in accordance with the obligations of a given nation state.
From we are knee high we are taught not to take the law into our own hands, but with this is prefaced that the law is in someone’s hands (eg the state to administer).
However, if the state refuses to administer the law, then what happens in that void, where does the law go?
These are profound issues that the UK and Irish governments need to grapple with and they need to turn away from policies which undermine the very foundations of the so-called democracies on which these two nation states operate.
Where is the political noise or concern from either side of the border on this?
Where is the consternation being shown by church leaders, where are the probing questions from mainstream media on either side of the border?
This is not peace, this is appeasement of terrorism and its political annexes.
Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United, Lisnaskea, south Fermanagh
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• Owen Polley Nov 8: Violence will hinder campaign against Irish Sea border
• Henry McDonald Nov 6: My family’s roots that bind us to Ypres and the Somme
• Ruth Dudley Edwards Nov 2: Stephen Nolan seen as a hero in GB for his reports into Stonewall
• Writers Oct 30: We probe Irish nationalist myths in our new book which defends the Union
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