Marian Price release: A victory for due process and for peace

Free Price

Today veteran Republican,  Old Bailey bomber and Real IRA supporter Marian Price was released from prison having been  held for two years. As has been highlighted with the recent tragic events in Woolwich and the Government’s proposed response, there are times when civil liberties come into conflict with the fight against terrorism and extremism. This was not one of those instances; The release of Price is good news for both. Continue reading

Why they killed David Black

At 07.30 this morning, David Black, a Northern Ireland Prison Service officer was ambushed and shot dead on his way to work by Republicans opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. Though the actions of violent Republicans are often portrayed as emanating from a sense of blood lust or barbarism, I have previously argued that this is not the case and this morning’s killing is no exception.  Black’s death was intended demonstrate capability, improve the moral of violent Republicans and escalate the on-going prison dispute. Unfortunately, it may succeed in doing just that.

Despite the formation of a so called “new IRA”; the past few months have not been good ones for violent Republicans, with attacks down by 20% on last year. The recent  downgrade of the threat posed to Great Britain by Republicans, from “substantial” to “moderate”, built upon a terrible month for violent Republicans who suffered a spate of arrests in October with over a dozen members held in Limerick, Belfast and Dublin. This has included high value members such as bomb makers and intelligence officers. Even the manner in which the formation of the “new IRA” (a merger of RAAD and the Real IRA) was announced actually highlighted weakness rather than strength. The announcement came in late July, the week leading up to the Olympics, when even a small device in Great Britain would have brought the attention of the world to the newly formed group. Rather than announcing its existence with an operation, the “new IRA” chose to hand a journalist a press release in a dark country road. Continue reading

Reflections on the first meeting of the EU working group on de-radicalisation

Over the past two days in Stockholm I have been participating in the EU’s working group on de radicalisation. As the work of this group develops I hope to share some impressions and lessons with you all. In order to give some context to these occasional posts, I should first explain the background and purpose of the working group.

In September 2011 the EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström launched a pan-European network called the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) to bring together individuals working in the field of radicalisation. The network aimed not only to facilitate the crosspollination of ideas across Europe, but also to bring practitioners closer to policy makers who were sometimes far removed from the day to day work of professionals in this highly sensitive field.

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Dissident talks?

Martin McGuiness today offered to hold talks with anti-Good Friday Agreement Republicans who remain committed to violence. But could these talks occur and if so, where would they lead? McGuiness, once a firm proponent of violence, threw down the gauntlet to anti-GFA Republicans stating:

My message to those who remain committed to violence is that it is not much of an achievement to think that the only thing you have shown the capability to break are two fine women’s hearts.

This statement can be, and indeed was likely intended  to be interpreted in two ways. To most this is a simple  appeal to the humanity of those still supporting violence. However it must be born in mind that McGuiness is no soft hearted pacifist. At the 1986 PSF Ard Feis Martin McGuinness gave a speech in favour a motion to recognise Leinster House where he stated: Continue reading

Launch of new Counter Extremism resource

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) has developed and launched, an online resource for policy makers working on radicalisation and polarisation. It includes an easily searchable up-to-date repository of government policies and programmes, both current and historical, and contains a log of case studies and evaluated best practices. This library of resources acts as a one-stop-shop for those working to tackle radicalisation and polarisation, contains a diary of forthcoming events and meetings, and has an ‘expert finder’. The website also has the capability to support online practitioner network forums, ‘hot topic’ and crisis response chat rooms, and expert facilitated discussions. Funded by the European Commission, it is intended to help policy makers, decision makers, practitioners and academics to exchange information and examples of good practice, stay in touch, and remain up-to-date with latest developments.

Clinton on LGBT Human Rights

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today delivered a speech in Geneva to mark Human Rights day. This speech focused on LGBT human rights and is quoted in full below. It is certainly worth taking the time to read or watch, the video can be watched here.


Good evening, and let me express my deep honor and pleasure at being here. I want to thank Director General Tokayev and Ms. Wyden along with other ministers, ambassadors, excellencies, and UN partners. This weekend, we will celebrate Human Rights Day, the anniversary of one of the great accomplishments of the last century.

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Owers report:Reforming the Northern Ireland Prison Service

In my first post for this blog last year I referred to the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) as the ‘blind spot’ of the Good Friday Agreement and highlighted the necessity for swift reform, not least due to propaganda value offered to anti-GFA groups through the appalling conditions prevalent at HMP Maghaberry. In addition to its treatment of those in Maghaberry, the NIPS has come under fire for its failure to adequately provide for prisoners with mental health issues, see Viki’s post in May. This week the Prison Review Team issued its final report (Owers report) making 40 recommendations to Justice Minister David Ford relating to reform of the NIPS. This commission, which was established as part of the Hillsborough Agreement in 2010, was originally tasked with:

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Marian Price: Internment without trial?

The head of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association and leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement Marian Price is currently being held in the hospital wing of Maghaberry High Security Prison, an otherwise male facility. Price, who was convicted of the Old Bailey bombings in 1973, has had her life licence revoked by Owen Patterson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

As a committed anti-GFA Republican, Price is no stranger to the criminal justice system. In the past number of years she has been charged with attending an illegal march, providing property (a mobile phone) for the purposes of terrorism and encouraging support for an illegal organisation. As of yet, Price has not been convicted of the latter two offences. The statement by Owen Paterson reads: Continue reading

Call for Unified Charter of Rights

The Joint Committee of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights Commission have today called for the establishment of an all Island charter of rights.

The joint committee was established by the Good Friday Agreement which, which specifically mentioned the possibility of such a charter:

It is envisaged that there would be a joint committee of representatives of the two Human Rights Commissions, North and South, as a forum for consideration of human rights issues in the island of Ireland. The joint committee will consider, among other matters, the possibility of establishing a charter, open to signature by all democratic political parties, reflecting and endorsing agreed measures for the protection of the fundamental rights of everyone living in the island of Ireland. Continue reading

The ongoing crisis within Loyalism: A serious threat to peace

Last week I wrote a post dealing with the apparent demise of the political voice of Loyalism, the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). In the week that has followed the other side of the Loyalist coin, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), has orchestrated sectarian riots in Belfast by attacking Catholic homes in Short Strand. The ongoing violence has lead to three shootings, including that of a journalist. On the surface this rioting represents a repugnant but containable throwback to the ‘bad old days’ of sectarian strife. However to examine Loyalism in isolation would be a mistake, throughout the ‘Troubles’ the tit-for-tat interplay between Republicans and Loyalists defined the conflict.

An attempt has been made by political Loyalists such as those in the PUP to imbue Loyalism with a more positive identity. Documents such as Principles of Loyalism attempted to distil Loyalist thought and forge it into an identity which could apply in times of peace as well as of conflict. However this rebranding exercise, and political Loyalism with it, has largely failed. The Ulster Democratic Party(UDP), the political wing of the Continue reading