Martin Corey's Release: The Sound of Silence?

“Political Prisoner” is a term to conjure with, a term that demands headlines. But woe to the campaign which tries to exploit this term’s unique resonance where the media finds the cause in question unfashionable. Martin Corey (pictured, left) was this week released after nearly four years in which he was detained in Maghaberry prison without trial, a detention affirmed by a tribunal hearing closed evidence against him with his interests controversially protected by a Special Advocate. His challenge to this detention reached the UK Supreme Court (and may yet be heard before the European Court of Human Rights). And yet, outside Northern Ireland his case is almost unknown. In a particular indignity, the Irish Times reported his latest Court defeat in December, but has yet to report his release. Stories about dissident republicans mustn’t sell enough papers. Continue reading “Martin Corey's Release: The Sound of Silence?”

Martin Corey's Release: The Sound of Silence?

Lost in Time? Controversy over Police Powers in Northern Ireland

Fire Bomb in Belfast: BBCThe Troubles just won’t slip conveniently into history. In recent weeks anyone confident that Northern Ireland has “moved on” will have received multiple jolts to such complacency. A car bomb (and last night a fire bomb, pictured left) and Loyalist protests have disrupted shopping in Belfast’s city centre in the run up to Christmas. And as for the Troubles themselves, they have been a prominent part of the news headlines. Revelations UK army units operating beyond the standard rules of engagement in the 1970s. Outcry over the fate of the “disappeared” and over the strenuous denials by Gerry Adams over his own involvement. Shock over the detail of collusion between members of the Garda and the Provisional IRA in the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal. The risk of more bloodshed today running hand-in-hand with blood continuing to seep under the door marked “the Troubles” with every new revelation. Continue reading “Lost in Time? Controversy over Police Powers in Northern Ireland”

Lost in Time? Controversy over Police Powers in Northern Ireland

Edward Snowden, The European Convention on Human Rights and State Surveillance

Edward Snowden (Picture Credit: The Gurdian)The Edward Snowden Affair tells us much about how the role of intelligence agencies, and legal oversight of their activities, has changed in the 21st century. Some, like Professor Douwe Korff, writing in The Guardian, maintain that the ECHR will provide a legal solution to the questionable activities highlighted by Snowden; ‘under the ECHR the UK has a duty to prevent its US friends like the NSA from spying on the data and communications of British and other individuals. In fact, it does the opposite, and facilitates such access – again in flagrant breach of its ECHR obligations.’ This post examines whether we can indeed put our faith in the Convention when it comes to state surveillance. Continue reading “Edward Snowden, The European Convention on Human Rights and State Surveillance”

Edward Snowden, The European Convention on Human Rights and State Surveillance

Prisoner Voting: The Human Rights Issue that Keeps on Giving

The UK’s continued delays in responding to the issue of prisoner voting has spawned a hydra-headed legal debacle. Whereas countries like Ireland quickly passed legislation to enfranchise prisoners in the wake of Hirst v UK decision by the Grand Chamber of the European Court in 2005 (the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2006) the then Labour Government vacillated, seemingly hoping that if delayed for long enough the problem would go away. It didn’t, but on the other hand it did become somebody else’s problem (much to David Cameron’s chagrin). In fact, it has become a whole range of legal problems facing the UK today. Continue reading “Prisoner Voting: The Human Rights Issue that Keeps on Giving”

Prisoner Voting: The Human Rights Issue that Keeps on Giving

Living History: The Boston College Case and the SPADs Bill

“The past invades the present, The present lives in the past, The future will never come.” The closing words of Robert Greacen’s poem, Procession, lamented the atrophy of unionism in the aftermath of partition. In the last week, the troubled passage of the Special Advisers Bill through the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Government’s fight through the US Courts for records of an oral history project held by Boston College (pictured left) indicate just how far Northern Ireland hasn’t come in tackling the Troubles’ legacy. Continue reading “Living History: The Boston College Case and the SPADs Bill”

Living History: The Boston College Case and the SPADs Bill

All Liars: Thatcher and the Troubles

 

 

‘I’ve got one thing to say to you, my boy … you can’t trust the Irish, they are all liars … and that’s what you have to remember, so just don’t forget it’. Death cannot constrain the effervescent charm of Margaret Thatcher. Or maybe Peter Mandelson, who revealed this gobbet of bile to the world in the aftermath of her death, still knows how to skewer his political opponent with an anecdote to which she can’t very well respond. Continue reading “All Liars: Thatcher and the Troubles”

All Liars: Thatcher and the Troubles

The PSNI and the Loyalist Flag Protests

The auguries for “Marching Season” in Northern Ireland look bleak. Months of loyalist protests against Belfast City Council’s decision to restrict the flying of the Union Flag are fuelling tensions. Naomi Long, the Alliance MP for East Belfast (who has been at the centre of the storm since her Party backed the current arrangements regarding the flag), issued the dire warning that the spectacle of groups which consider themselves under threat turning to paramilitaries carried with it “reflections of 1969 and 1970”. All the while, the performance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in response to the flag protests  (pictured left) has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Continue reading “The PSNI and the Loyalist Flag Protests”

The PSNI and the Loyalist Flag Protests

Would You Adam and Eve it? The DUP and the Gay Marriage Debate

Gay rights issues, and particularly issues of equality of treatment for gay people living in the UK have created a flurry of headlines in recent months. In January, two of the conjoined cases Eweida v UK (Ladele v UK and McFarlane v UK) involved clashes between rights to religion (Article 9 ECHR) and equality legislation (now contained within the Equality Act 2010) protecting gay people from discrimination (protected under Article 14 ECHR). In these cases, the European Court of Human Rights noted that the claimants did have religious objections to being involved in civil partnerships as a registrar and in advising gay couples as a relationship counsellor, but found that the UK had needed to “balance” the competing interests. Continue reading “Would You Adam and Eve it? The DUP and the Gay Marriage Debate”

Would You Adam and Eve it? The DUP and the Gay Marriage Debate

A Dark and Violent Time: The Report of the Pat Finucane Review

David Cameron is shocked. Ed Miliband is shocked. But no one is really shocked. Patrick Finucane (pictured left) has been dead for nearly 24 years and the world moves on cruelly fast. Labour’s demand for a full public inquiry into his killing smacks of making political capital out of a family denied answers (let alone justice) for too long, and which is now skeptical of any answers it does receive. Even Gerry Adams’ statement in support of this cause is terse, running to little over 100 words. The de Silva Report has, a day after its publication, already slipped from the home pages of the websites of national newspapers in the UK and Ireland. Continue reading “A Dark and Violent Time: The Report of the Pat Finucane Review”

A Dark and Violent Time: The Report of the Pat Finucane Review

Domestic Violence and the limits of (media interest in) Human Rights

Human rights cases rarely seem to generate media interest unless some populist bogeyman, like Abu Qatada, has successfully scuppered a government policy by running to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In the UK in particular, the confluence of human rights claims by figures such as Qatada, and the distrust of European institutions (irrespective of whether those institutions form part of the Council of Europe structures or belong to the European Union) amongst sections of the press, combine to make certain cases “newsworthy”. Other decisions, such as the European Court’s rejection of Irene Wilson’s petition earlier this month, have gone largely unreported (with the exception of human-rights interest blogs, such as the UK Human Rights Blog). Continue reading “Domestic Violence and the limits of (media interest in) Human Rights”

Domestic Violence and the limits of (media interest in) Human Rights