Six months ago, Malachi O’Doherty claimed that with his arrest over the murder of Jean McConville, Gerry Adams’ political career was as good as over; “Adams’s southern political ambitions are now dead, whatever happens next”. Just a month later, following European and Local elections that saw Sinn Féin maintain their position in Northern Ireland and surge in the Republic of Ireland, the talk turned, in Colm Keena’s words, to whether Sinn Féin “will hold the position of Dublin Lord Mayor in Easter 2016”. Maíria Cahill’s claims of her rape at the hands of a Provisional IRA member and her subsequent treatment at the hands of the republican movement have in recent weeks returned the spotlight to Sinn Féin. And that is before we even mention the “On-The-Runs” crisis which threatened to collapse the Northern Ireland in the spring. And yet, Sinn Féin seems to have been able to shake off each successive crisis and continues to see its popularity surge according to recent polls. Continue reading “Sinn Féin, Constitutional Politics and the Rule of Law”
‘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”
Today Arlene Foster, the DUP MLA and Minister, is leading a group to Dublin to call on the Irish government to acknowledge (not apologise for) the failure of successive Irish governments to protect life along the border. A core part of her argument is that many IRA attacks were planned by individuals who lived in the Republic, crossed the border to conduct the attack and then returned to what she views to be a ‘safe haven.’
I’m currently in the process of writing a history of policing in Ireland in the twentieth century and one of the most significant aspects of this is the impact of Troubles of policing in Ireland, something I contend is largely unacknowledged. Continue reading “Policing the Border During the Troubles”
HRinI is delighted to post this piece by Ross Frenett a graduate student from King’s College London. Read more about Ross on our Guests page.
In mid-August a protest by Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison came to an end when an agreement was reached between Prisoner representatives and the Prison authorities. Whether both parties will abide by this agreement remains to be seen. That this protest, which centred on restrictive movement and punitive and degrading use of strip searches, should have gotten to this point in the first place and highlights a significant failing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Following an inspection of the High Security facility last year, Maghaberry was found to be underperforming in all areas. Continue reading “Guest post: Frenett on Prisons and the Good Friday Agreement”
Over the next three weeks a number of our regular contributors and guest bloggers will consider key events in Irish legal history which have had an impact on the political institutions in place in Ireland and in particular upon questions of human rights. The first guest post in this series is contributed by Dr Louise Mallinder, a lecturer in human rights and international law at the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster. It explores the attempts by the Stormont Parliament to institute amnesties for particular crimes in the late 1960s and their role in the descent towards The Troubles.
For millennia, amnesty laws have been used across the world by governments whose legitimacy and authority have been threatened by rebellions and civil unrest (See eg Robert Parker, ‘Fighting the Siren’s Song: The Problem of Amnesty in Historical and Contemporary Perspective’ (2001) 42 Acta Juridica Hungarica 69). They have been used in the midst of violence as counter-insurgency measures or efforts to defuse tensions. They are also a common feature of peace agreements (For examples of peace agreements containing amnesty provisions, see the Transitional Justice Institute/INCORE Peace Agreement Database). Indeed, Article 6(5) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions 1977, which is the only international human rights or humanitarian law treaty to explicitly mention amnesty laws, calls upon state parties to enact the ‘broadest possible amnesty’ at the end of non-international conflicts. The rationale for this provision is that an amnesty is a necessary prerequisite to encourage combatants to surrender their weapons and reintegrate into society, and that in contrast efforts to pursue retribution could risk further inflaming tensions. However, as was evident in Northern Ireland during the Consultative Group on the Past’s public consultations, amnesty laws are often strongly opposed by victims’ groups and human rights activists (Philip Bradfield, ‘Victims hit out over talks on amnesty’ Newsletter (17 January 2008); Chris Thornton, ‘“Don’t mention the war”, 2,000 letters tell Eames’ Belfast Telegraph (21 February 2008)). Continue reading “Human Rights in Irish Legal History: Mallinder on the 1969 Amnesty in Northern Ireland”