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MAN (21) JAILED FOR THREE YEARS FOR SHOOTING

A 21-YEAR-OLD man was jailed for three years on Monday after pleading guilty to a paramilitary-style shooting,according to police.

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Tiernan Porter, of Glasvey Walk, Dunmurry, Co Antrim, admitted wounding a man with intent, possession of a firearm with criminal intent, possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances and possession of articles for a terrorist purpose. The victim was wounded in his thigh and ankle in the attack in Twinbrook, on the outskirts of west Belfast, on May 31 2010. Porter will spend a further three years on licence. A police spokesman said : “Paramilitary attacks are a scourge on our local community and today’s sentencing demonstrates that the PSNI and our partners within the criminal justice system are committed to bringing those responsible for such attacks to justice.”

With many thanks to : Irish News.

REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ( SURVEILLANCE ) ACT 2009 – IT Law in Ireland – This is a leaked copy of a draft agreement between Irish government agencies …

 Information Technology law issues with a focus on freedom of expression, privacy and other fundamental rights. Brought to you by TJ McIntyre.

Surveillance up, but bugs being discovered by targets

Smoke alarm claimed to have been bugged by gardaí

 John Mooney and Mark Tighe have an detailed piece in today’s Sunday Times arising out of the latest report of the designated judge under the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009. Some highlights

AN INCREASING number of requests by gardai for permission to spy on alleged criminals and terrorists are being rejected because the operations were premature, excessive or contained inadequate information. A report on the state’s covert surveillance operations by Kevin Feeney, a High Court judge appointed to audit spying activities by gardai, Customs and the military, found a small increase in the number of cases where gardai were refused permission to plant eavesdropping devices and tiny cameras to spy on people suspected of involvement in paramilitary groups and organised crime.
In one case, a chief superintendent who asked to use an audio transmitter was refused permission because the surveillance was not proportionate to the identified objectives of the operation. Applications by garda officers for surveillance warrants were turned down on the basis that the premises where the device was to be located had not been confirmed as available or appropriate.
The 2009 Surveillance Act allows gardai, the Defence Forces and Revenue Commissioners to break into homes and cars to plant recording devices and tiny cameras to record private conversations. The “product” can be used as evidence in prosecutions. Permission for the surveillance, which can last up to three months, must be granted by a district court judge.
Feeney said the number of cases where gardai obtained district court authorisation to plant devices was “a small double-figure number”. The number of authorisations that were declined was fewer than 10, but up on the previous year.
The report, obtained by The Sunday Times, also noted that surveillance and countersurveillance devices can be bought by the public. The judge said the availability of such equipment was brought to his attention when gardai found a device that had been installed by an unknown third party to monitor a person they were spying on. The report makes no reference to the discovery of such equipment by people being spied upon. Security sources say several devices have been detected recently…

I’ll upload a copy of the latest report as soon as I have it. In the meantime, the 2009/2010 report is available here.

WITH MANY THANKS TO :  Posted by

REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE(SURVEILLANCE) ACT
2009
The Government, at its meeting on the 30
th
September, 2009, designated Mr.Justice Kevin Feeney as the designated judge pursuant to s. 12 of the Criminal Justice(Surveillance) Act 2009 (the Act). By letter of the 14
th
October, 2009 the Minister forJustice, Equality and Law Reform wrote to Mr. Justice Feeney informing him of thefact that he was to be “the designated judge” under the Act.Under section 12(3) the functions of the designated are to-(a) keep under review the operation of sections 4 to 8, and(b) report to the Taoiseach from time to time and at least once every 12months concerning any matters relating to the operation of thosesections that the designated judge considers should be reported.The purpose ofthe Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 is identified in itstitle where it states -”An Act to provide for surveillance in connection with the investigation of arrestable offences, the prevention of suspected arrestable offences and thesafeguarding of the State against subversive and terrorist threats, to amend theGarda Siochlina Act 2005 and the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961and to provide for matters connected therewith.”The functions of the designated judge include keeping under review sections 4 to 8 of the Act. Section 4 provides for applications for authorisation for surveillance, section5 provides for authorisation, section 6 provides for variation or renewal of
2authorisation, section 7 provides for approval for surveillance in cases of urgency andsection 8 provides for tracking devices.The Act provides that surveillance may only be carried out by a member of AnGarda Siochana, the Defence Forces or an officer of the Revenue Commissioners inaccordance with a valid authorisation issued by ajudge of the District Court, or, incertain limited circumstances, in accordance with an approval issued by a seniorofficer of a designated rank. Surveillance is defined in s. I of the Act to mean:”(a) monitoring, observing, listening to or making a recording of aparticular person or group of persons or their movements, activitiesand communications or(b) monitoring or making a recording of places or things,by or with the assistance of surveillance devices.”Surveillance device is defined in the same section as “an apparatus designed oradapted for use in surveillance” and certain apparatus are expressly excluded as beingsurveillance devices for the purpose of the Act. The legislation was enacted incircumstances where non-trespassory surveillance that is not specifically authorisedby statute had been found by the European Court of Human Rights to be unlawful andin breach of the rights to privacy under the Convention. The 2009 Act providesstatutory authorisation for non-trespassory surveillance in identified circumstances.As this is the first report under the Act, it is appropriate to provide a brief overview of sections 4 to 8 of the Act which are the sections the subject of this report.The starting point is that before any surveillance may be validly carried out, it isnecessary to obtain an authorisation either from the District Court under section 5 orin cases of “urgency” surveillance may be carried out without Court authorisation ifithas been approved by a superior officer in accordance with section 7 and surveillance
-.
3carried out under that section may not be carried out for a period of more than 72hours from the time at which the approval is granted. Section 4 of the Act allowscertain persons to apply for authorisation under the Act, those being “a superiorofficer” of An Garda Siochana, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners.The minimum rank of the superior officer is designated in the Act. An application forauthorisation is made
ex parte
to a District judge assigned to any District Courtdistrict. The scheme under the Act therefore does not require the application to bemade to the District Court district where it is intended to carry out the surveillance.An application under section 4 to authorise surveillance is heard in camera, that is inprivate. Under the Act the application must be grounded on information sworn by theapplicant which establishes that that person has reasonable grounds for believing anumber of matters, namely:(a) that the surveillance is necessary,(b) that the least intrusive means available having regard to its objectiveshas been adopted,(c) that the surveillance is proportionate to its objectives having regard toall the circumstances including its likely impact on the rights of anyperson, andCd) that the duration for which such surveillance is sought is reasonablyrequired to achieve the objectives envisaged.Only officers of the three identified bodies are entitled to seek authorisation, thosebodies being An Garda Siochana, the Defence Forces and the RevenueCommissioners. Section 4 of the Act identifies the information which each of thosebodies must establish to show that the surveillance is necessary.
4Certain designated persons are therefore entitled to make an application forauthorisation for surveillance under the Act. That application is made
ex parle
to theDistrict Court and the District judge hearing the application may issue theauthorisation or may issue it subject to conditions or may refuse the application.Section 5 of the Act deals with the authorisation and where an authorisation is issued,following a District Court order, such authorisation authorises the applicant,accompanied by any other person he/she considers necessary, to enter any place (if necessary by reasonable force), for the purpose of initiating or carrying out theauthorised surveillance and withdrawing the authorised surveillance device withoutthe consent of the owner/person in charge. Section 5 also provides that theauthorisation must be in writing and must specify the particulars of the surveillancedevice authorised to be used, the subject of the surveillance, that is the person, placeor thing, the name of the superior officer to whom authorisation is issued, anyconditions imposed by the order and the expiry date of the authorisation. Theauthorisation issued by the Court is valid in respect of any part of the State and is notrestricted to the District Court district in which the order was obtained. The durationof the authorisation is identified on the face of the order and the District Court judgestates the date upon which it will expire which is a date which cannot be later thanthree months from the date of issue. The Act provides in section 6 for the possibilityof renewal or variation of an order and an application may be brought to renew orvary the authorisation but that application must be done prior to the expiration of theoriginal order. An application for renewal or variation must be grounded oninformation sworn by the person applying and must state the reasons for suchapplication justifYing a renewal or variation of the authorisation.
5
Section 7 of the Act deals with surveillance in urgent cases which may becarried out without an authorisation pursuant to a District Court order as provided forin section 5. Approval for surveillance in cases of urgency is dealt with in section 7and such surveillance must be carried out with the approval of a senior officer of aminimum designated rank. Before granting the approval, the superior or seniorofficer must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that anauthorisation would be issued by the District Court and that one or more of thefollowing conditions of urgency apply:(a) it is likely that-a person would abscond for the purpose of avoiding justice,obstruct the course of justice orcommit an arrestable/a revenue offence;(b) information or evidence in relation to the commission of an arrestableoffence or a revenue offence is likely to be destroyed, lost or otherwisebecome unavailable, or(c) the security ofthe State would be likely to be compromised.An approval granted under section 7 in a case of urgency may be grantedsubject to conditions including the duration of the surveillance which cannot exceed72 hours. The Act provides that if the superior officer has reasonable grounds forbelieving that surveillance beyond the period of 72 hours is warranted that he or shemust make an application to the Court prior to the expiration of the period of 72 hoursfor an authorisation to continue the surveillance. Section 7 of the Act identifies theobligations on a superior officer who grants an approval.
6Section 8 of the Act deals with tracking devices which provides a statutorybasis by which the movements of persons, vehicles or things may be monitored usinga tracking device for a period of not more than four months where approved by asuperior officer without any necessity of making an application to Court. A trackingdevice is defined and the minimum rank ofthe superior officer who may approve theuse of a tracking device is set out in the section. That section provides that in additionto satisfying the normal grounds for issuing an authorisation, a person applying forsuch authorisation must show that the use of a tracking device would be sufficient forobtaining the information/evidence sought and that the information/evidence soughtcould reasonably be obtained by the use of a tracking device for a specified periodthat is as short as is practicable to allow the information or evidence to be obtained.An approval may be granted subject to conditions including the duration of thesUrveillance.A number of Statutory Instruments have been introduced which are relevant tothe operation and function of the Act. Three Statutory Instruments, dealing withwritten record of approval, for An Garda Siochana, the Revenue Commissioners andthe Defence Forces were introduced, namely, Statutory Instruments No. 275/209,290/209 and 80/20 I
O .
District Court Rules dealing with the procedures to be appliedby the District Court were introduced by two Statutory Instruments, namely, StatutoryInstrument No. 314/2010 and Statutory Instrument No. 360/2010. An order under34A of the District Court Rules is also relevant.The Act was signed into law on the 12
th
July, 2009 and became operative as of that date. I was not notified of my appointment as the designated judge pursuant tosection 12 until I received the letter of the 14
th
October, 2009. In those circumstancesI determined, that in the first year of its operation, that it would be appropriate to
 
7review the operation of the Act from its inception date to the date of the 31
51
July,20 I0 and to review the operation and use of sections 4 to 8 under the Act during thatperiod.After my nomination as the designated judge, I was contacted by the office of the Chief of Staff ofthe Defence Forces, the Commissioner of An Garda Siochanaand the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners who in each instance identified asenior person who would act as a point of contact and would facilitate me in thecarrying out of my functions under section 12 of the Act. On being informed ofthecontact person in each of the three bodies, I made written contact with each of thosepersons in October 2009. In November 2009 I attended at McKee Barracks and atGarda Headquarters in Phoenix Park for the purpose of discussing the procedureswhich had been followed to that date and/or were to be followed by both of thosebodies. In particular, I observed the initial procedures and documents used by AnGarda Siochana in operating the provisions of the Act and ascertained that adequateand sufficient documentary records were being kept. Records were being kept of every occasion when the provisions ofthe Act were used.By the 19
th
November, 2009, which was the date of my attendance in GardaHeadquarters where I met with an Assistant Commissioner and a number of otherofficers, it was apparent that An Garda Siochana had already availed of the provisionsof the Act and had put in place a centralised written record of all occasions andinstances in which there had been applications for authorisations, the granting of authorisations, the variation or renewal of authorisations, the approval of surveillancein the case of urgency and the use of tracking devices.After the Act had been in use for a period of slightly in excess of one year, Iagain made contact with each of the contact persons within the three organisations
8and arranged to attend at a relevant location where each of those three bodies held therelevant documentation and information. Meetings were arranged with each of thethree bodies in the month of September 2010 and I attended at McKee Barracks whereI met with the Colonel in charge of the operation. The Colonel in charge hadavailable the written records in relation to each and every occasion upon which theprovisions of section 4 to section 8 of the Act had been operated by the DefenceForces in the period from the commencement of the Act up to the 31
st
July, 2010. Iwill deal later with each of the three bodies in separate paragraphs. In September20 I0 I also attended at the headquarters of An Garda Siochana where I met with theAssistant Commissioner in charge of the use and operation of surveillance under the2009 Act and had made available to me the documentation and records relating toeach and every occasion upon which An Garda Siochana had availed of the provisionsof section 4 to section 8 of the Act. Similarly in September 20 I0 I attended at theInvestigations and Prosecution Division of the Revenue Commissioners and met withthe Assistant Secretary in charge of the use and operation of surveillance under theAct by the Revenue Commissioners. I was provided with documentation and recordsdealing with each and every use by the Revenue Commissioners of the provisions of section 4 to section 8 of the Act during the relevant period up to the 31
st
July, 20 IO.The Defence FOJrcesMy consideration of the documents and records kept by the Defence Forcesand made available to me established that the Defence Forces had availed of theprovisions under the Act on a limited number of occasions during the twelve and ahalf month period under review. The Defence Forces had used the provisions oftheAct on less than ten occasions and therefore I was in a position to review and consider
9the documents available in relation to each and every use by the Defence Forces of the provisions of sections 4 to 8 of the Act. On every occasion upon whichsurveillance was carried out by the Defence Forces during the twelve and a half month period, such surveillance was carried out pursuant to an authorisation issued bythe District Court following an application for such authorisation. On each occasionupon which an application was made to the District Court, the Colonel in charge waspresent and was available for examination by the District Court judge. I reviewed thedocumentation and was satisfied that from those records each and every occasionupon which the Defence Forces had operated the provisions of section 4 that anauthorisation from the District Court had been obtained. On every occasion theColonel in charge was the instigator of the application for authorisation under section4. In each instance the authorisation issued by the District Court under section 5 wasavailable to me. On no occasion was an authorisation granted for the maximumperiod and the period of authorisation was in each instance limited to a period lessthan three months. The basis for the application under section 4 in each and everyinstance was that the surveillance sought was necessary for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State. In each instance upon which an applicationunder section 4 was granted the District judge was satisfied to make an order. Forsuch an order to be made the District judge is required to be satisfied by informationon oath of the superior officer concerned. The authorisation granted providesparticulars of the surveillance device to be used, the person or place or thing that is tobe the subject of surveillance, the name of the superior officer to whom it was issuedand the conditions upon which the authorisation was issued including the date of expiry. In no instance was section 6 of the Act used by the Defence Forces, that is, anapplication for variation or renewal of authorisation. In one instance a person who
10had been previously the subject matter of a surveillance order was the subject of asubsequent application to the District Court. The documentation indicated that in thatcase there had been an authorisation for a period of one month in respect of aparticular person but that the surveillance device had been removed before the end of that period and that due to the need to extend the scope and nature of the surveillancea fresh application was made to the District Court for an authorisation under section 5.The fact of the earlier surveillance order was disclosed to the Court at the time of themaking of the second application.As indicated earlier in this report an application for authorisation can be madeto any District judge and I therefore consider it appropriate to identify whether or notone particular District judge was being used as the person to whom applications weremade by the Defence Forces. The position identified by the documentation was thatevery authorisation issued during the period was issued by a different District judge.I had the opportunity of speaking with the Colonel in charge of the operationof the Act and I was able to discuss with him the operation of sections 4 to g of theAct and to review the use by the Defence Forces of the provisions under the Actduring the twelve and a half month period after the Act came into operation. TheDefence Forces did not avail of the provisions under section 7 for the approval of surveillance in cases of urgency on any occasion during the period nor had theyavailed of the provisions under section g. Due to the limited number of uses by theDefence Forces in the period under consideration I was able to review the files anddocuments available in respect of each and every use by the Defence Forces of theprovisions of the Act. That review qemonstrated that in each and every instance aDistrict judge was satisfied to grant an authorisation under section 5 and that suchauthorisation was available for review. I spoke to the Colonel in charge and obtained
 
11
an oral account of the circumstances giving rise to the application for authorisation.That information is confidential and it relates to criminal investigations which areprogressing. The documentation available and the information provided to me by theColonel in charge enabled me to review the operation of sections 4 to 8 by theDefence Forces for the twelve and a half month period in question. Theimplementation of Statutory Instrument No. 360/20 I0 will facilitate a standardisationof information available in relation to applications brought under section 4 for anauthorisation under section 5.During my review nothing came to my attention in relation to the DefenceForces’ use of the Act which would suggest any improper or inappropriate use of theprovisions of sections 4 to 8 of the Act.
An
Glirda
Siochana
In November 2009 I visited the Assistant Commissioner in charge of theoperation and co-ordination of all applications for authorisation or use under sections4 to 8 of the Act. I met with the Assistant Commissioner and a number of othermembers of An Garda Siochana and ascertained that early use had been made by AnGrda Siochana of the provisions of the Act after its introduction. I reviewed the makeup of the documentation and information which was kept and recorded. Thedocumentation and records were retained in a centralised location and were availableto me for review. The system in operation was such that all applications under theAct were directed through the Assistant Commissioner in charge.In September 2010 rmet with the Assistant Commissioner in charge of theoperation of the Act for An Garda Siochana and a number of other senior members of the Garda!’ The manner in which An Garda Siochana operates the Act is that all
12requests for use of and all applications for use or authorisations under the Act and allrequests for use of tracking devices are dealt with by one Assistant Commissioneroperating at the head of a small team of senior officers. All documentation andrecords generated are available centrally and were available to me on the occasion of my visit.The period of review was from the commencement of the Act until the 31
Sl
July, 2010. The use ofa central point for all uses under the Act results in allapplications for usage being directed through one section and that section has seniorofficers who have been trained in relation to the operation of the Act so as to ensurethat the procedures and record keeping which have been laid down are maintained.From my discussions with the Assistant Commissioner and the other seniormembers, it was apparent that early consideration was given as to the mode of operation which the Gardai would adopt in seeking to avail of the provisions of theAct. Legal advice was sought including consideration of international case law fromother common law jurisdictions where surveillance has been permitted by statute andalso consideration was given to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.Part of that ongoing consideration is that an internal policy document is in the processof completion and it is envisaged that it will be available for circulation within theGardai prior to the end of this calendar year. When that document has beencompleted a copy of it will be made available to me as part of my review of theoperation of the Act as designated judge. The policy document will apply throughoutAn Garda Siochana.The surveillance permitted under the Act is operated by An Garda Siochana insuch a manner that in practise no individual Guard, no matter of what rank, caninstigate a usage under the Act without going through the internal procedures which
13direct the usage through a particular section. This applies in every case. Thatapproach was apparent from my inspection as all the documentation and recordsrelating to all and any usage under the Act had been directed through the one section.The scope of usage related to all areas of serious organised crime and subversiveactivities.The considerable resource implications involved in the use of the Act resultsin a situation where surveillance is only used in carefully selected and targeted cases.An examination of the documents and records available to me and an examination of the breakdown of the usage by the Garda! of the provisions of the Act confirms thissituation. It is also the case that some usage involves real risk to the persons involvedin assisting in the application for or the usage of surveillance devices. Surveillancedevices can and are operated in a covert manner but the position is that the usage of the product of such surveillance in Court proceedings involves the operation inquestion being the subject of review in public with the actual or potentialidentification of parties involved in the process. This results in deployment of devicesin carefully selected and considered cases.It is to be noted that there is currently available on a commercial basissurveillance devices and counter-surveillance devices which can be purchased bymembers of the public. The use of such devices by third parties, including criminals,is a matter of ongoing concern to the Gardai.All the documentation and records generated by the Gardai in their use of theprovisions of the Act in the relevant period were made available to me in GardaHeadquarters. Records relating to each and every section 5 application were availableand it was apparent from an examination of those records that no individual Guard
14could pursue an authorisation without him or her being directed to the section whichcontrolled and monitored the operation of the Act.In relation to the section 4 applications, which are applications forauthorisation, I had regard to the occasions where a request for an application wasrefused. There were less than ten cases where members of the Gardai had sought to
- – - – - – -
have an application for authorisation made but where such request had be’en refused.All the files relating to those cases were available to me and I chose at random 50% of the cases. That review indicated that requests for an application for authorisation tobe made had been made in circumstances where they were premature or where suchrequests did not provide the necessary information to ground an application forauthorisation or where circumstances were such that it was deemed that suchapplication was not proportionate. In those cases no application was made. Giventhat the procedure which is followed by An Garda Siochana is that all applications gothrough the section dealing with these matters and given the imminent introduction of a written internal protocol, it would appear unlikely that there will be a substantialnumber of cases where applications by individual Gardai for the making of anapplication for authorisation under section 4 ofthe Act will be refused. However, theprocedures which are in place provides a filtering process to endeavour to ensure thatthe requirements for the granting of an authorisation are present prior to anapplication for authorisation being made.In the relevant period, An Garda Siochana made a number of applicationsunder section 4 and authorisation was granted under section 5 by the District Court.The number of cases represented a small double figure number and therefore I wasable to review 33% ofthe section 5 authorisations on a random basis. The documentsand records relating to all applications were available and I chose 33% of the cases at
IS
random. A review of those cases demonstrated that usually applications were made tothe District judge assigned to the District Court area where the surveillance wasenvisaged to occur. In all instances applications were made on information on oathand since the introduction of Statutory Instrument No. 360/20 I0 that information is ina set format. The cases reviewed indicated that the Act had been used in anappropriate manner and the surveillance dealt with such matters as the delivery of controlled drugs and investigations of crimes of serious violence invariably targetedagainst organised criminal or subversive groupings. Consideration of the documentsdemonstrated that the period of authorisation was invariably less than the maximumperiod and was targeted to the nature and circumstances of the proposed surveillance.Also in a number of instances, notwithstanding the grant of an authorisation undersection 5, no deployment occurred due to altered circumstances.In each and everyone of the cases chosen at random I was provided withinformation concerning the circumstances as to why such surveillance took place,how such surveillance occurred, the nature and extent and type of information whichwas gleaned and the extent to which deployment was possible.There were no applications for variation or renewal of authorisations made byAn Garda Siochana during the relevant period.A number of authorisations under section 7 for approval of surveillance incases of emergency were made during the relevant period. As those applications werenot the subject of consideration by the District Court I paid particular regard to thoseapprovals during my review. As in the other cases all the documentation and recordsrelating to such approvals were available for my consideration. The number of authorisations was a double figure number representing roughly twice the number of section 5 authorisations. In reviewing the records it was apparent that a number of the
16
approvals for surveiJIance in cases of emergency proceeded to subsequent section 4applications and the grant of a section 5 authorisation. That sequence could begleaned from a cross-reference of the documentation. I reviewed a substantialnumber of the section 7 approvals and in each and every instance the order waslimited to a period of no greater than 72 hours. In the vast majority of cases the orderwas for a duration of considerably less than 72 hours. In reviewing those approvals Ipaid regard to the information which was present on the documents and recordsconcerning the urgency of such approvals. That review demonstrated that in the casesreviewed there was in each instance an identifiable urgency for granting an approvalunder section 7. In a number of cases information had only become availableimmediately prior to the approval being granted under section 7 and such approvalrelated to events which were imminent. In a significant number of cases whereapproval was granted under section 7 the duration of the approved surveillance was solimited in time that such surveillance would have been completed within a matter of hours and prior to any opportunity to apply to Court for an authorisation under section5. Examination of the records and documents also demonstrated that urgent approvalswere required in circumstances where information crystallised immediately prior tothe actual surveillance itself. The use of section 7 and the other sections of the Actand the grant of approvals for surveillance in case of urgency related to organisedcriminal activity and to matters of State security.From my examination of the section 7 approvals and from the informationprovided to me at my meeting it is indicated that section 7 approvals are used incircumstances where there is neither the time nor circumstances which will allow orpermit for an application under section 4 for an authorisation under section 5. Thenature of the surveiJIance, the location of such surveillance and the duration identified
17
in the documents is entirely consistent with there being urgency in each of the caseswhich was considered.A written record is kept of approvals granted under section 7 which providesparticulars ofthe surveillance device, the person, place or thing that is to be thesubject of the surveillance, the name of the member of An Garda Siochana to whomsuch approval is granted, the conditions imposed on such approval, the time at whichsuch approval is granted and the duration of the approved surveillance. In at least oneinstance where a file was reviewed, the documents demonstrated the imposition of conditions which were consistent with the protection ofthird parties’ privacy.The final section of the Act which the designated judge is required to keepunder review is section 8 which deals with tracking devices. During the relevantperiod tracking devices were approved for use on a substantial number of occasions,the number of such approvals being less than 100. As with the operation of the othersections of the Act, all documentation and records relating to such approvals for therelevant period were available. I was able to review a number of the cases at randomand it was apparent that tracking devices had been placed on vehicles and objects. Astracking devices are less intrusive than surveillance devices the approval of the use of such devices does not require any application to Court. A member or officer canapply to a superior officer for the grant of an approval to use a tracking deviceprovided the requirements laid down in section 8, sub-section (2) of the Act are met.An examination of the records demonstrated that tracking devices were invariablyused as an aid to traditional Garda investigative methods for the purposes of givingthe location and direction of vehicles and objects if moved. The cases which Ireviewed demonstrated that the approvals under section 8 were granted in
18circumstances where there was extensive information available from earlierinvestigations.The review of the approvals granted under section 8 including the conditionsas to duration and use of the tracking devices and the information providedconcerning the circumstances and reasons for granting such approvals indicated thatsuch tracking devices were invariably used as part of ongoing investigations and as anaid to traditional Garda investigative methods.During my review of An Garda Siochana’s use of sections 4 to 8 of the Act,nothing came to my attention which would suggest any improper or inappropriate useand the procedures in place are designed to ensure that such event should not occur.The Revenue CommissionersIn September of2010 I visited the Investigations and Prosecutions Division of the Revenue Commissioners and spoke to an Assistant Secretary who wasaccompanied by two other officials at principal officer level. The Revenue alsooperates a system where all applications under the Act are made through the oneoffice. All the documents and records relating to the use and operation of the 2009Act by the Revenue Commissioners during the relevant period were available for myreview. To assist in a considered and consistent approach to the operation of theprovisions of the Act, the Revenue Commissioners have issued written operationalinstructions in the form of an instruction manual on the Criminal Justice(Surveillance) Act 2009 which was issued in July 2010. A copy of that manual wasmade available to me. That manual identifies the criteria for the use of surveillanceand sets out in detail approved procedures and the procedures to be observed by
19nominated officers.
I t
also provides, in an appendix, details of the statutory lawrelating to surveillance.An examination of the documents and records demonstrated that in themajority of cases the usage by the Revenue Commissioners related to tracking devicesunder section 8. During the relevant period there had been a number of applicationsunder section 5 and since those applications were relatively few I was able to reviewthe documentation and records relating to all those applications. Applications undersection 5 were based upon information on oath of superior officer specifying thegrounds and the format followed in the applications was almost identical to the formatultimately identified in Statutory Instrument No. 360/2010. The authorisation grantedto the Revenue Commissioners under section 5 in each instance was in writing andspecified the particulars required in section 5, sub-section (6) of the Act. A review of all of the section 5 authorisations identified that in each instance the particulars of thesurveillance device was identified, the person, place or thing which was to be thesubject of the surveillance was identified, the name of the superior officer to whom itwas issued was identified and the conditions including the duration were identified.The duration varied dependent upon the nature of the surveillance required. As withAn Garda Siochana the grant of an authorisation did not necessary result in theactivation of a device as the circumstances which gave rise to the application and thegrant of the authorisation had altered by the time it came to place or to activate thesurveillance device.No use of section 6 or section 7 of the Act was made by the RevenueCommissioners during the period under review.A number of approvals for the use of tracking devices under section 8 weregranted to officers of the Revenue Commissioners during the period under review.
20
The number of approvals granted under section 8 was in small double figures. All thedocumentation and records in relation to such approvals were available and on arandom basis I chose 33% ofthe approvals for review. In each and every instanceapplications for approval were made to an officer ofthe Revenue Commissioners of not less than principal officer. The principal officers to whom such applications forapproval were made were in every instance one of the principal officers directlyinvolved in operating and monitoring the Act for the Revenue Commissioners. It wasapparent from consideration of the documentation and records and from theinformation provided to me that the cost and manpower involved in the use of
L~~
tracking devices and in particular surveillance devices is such that they are targetedand limited to cases where there is already existing information. In all the caseswhich were reviewed there was a written record of approval consistent with section 8,sub-section (7) of the Act and there was available to me information and records toconfirm the appropriateness of the use of such devices.During my review nothing came to my attention which would suggest anyimproper or inappropriate use of sections 4 to 8 of the Act and the procedures in placeprovide for a consistent and targeted use of the Act.
Conclusions
Each of the three entities entitled to avail of the provisions of sections 4 to 8 of the Act have put in place a procedure to ensure that all use is directed through adesignated person, section or branch. In each instance the documentation and recordsnecessary to assist in the review were available in a central location and I was free tochoose at random any application, authorisation or approval for consideration. Thedocumentation relating to same was available and when explanations were requestedin relation to the individual circumstances they were readily provided. The three

Dr Michael Maguire to be NI Police Ombudsman

Dr Michael Maguire
Dr Michael Maguire is Northern Ireland‘s third Police Ombudsman
 

Dr Michael Maguire has been confirmed as Northern Ireland’s new Police Ombudsman.

Al Hutchinson stepped down from the role in January after criticism of the performance of his office, which holds the police service to account.

Dr Maguire is currently the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hutchinson became the second police ombudsman for Northern Ireland when he succeeded Nuala O’Loan in 2007.

In 2011, three independent reports were highly critical of the work being carried out by the ombudsman’s office.

Last month, Justice Minister David Ford began a public consultation on reforms to the Police Ombudsman’s Office, covering proposed changes to its structure, role and powers.

Mr Ford said the consultation outlined the potential for “significant changes” to the office’s law and governance.

Dr Maguire has worked at Criminal Justice Inspection since 2008.

Before that, he was a partner in a consulting firm, and he has been involved in strategic and organisational reviews across the public sector.

He was chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2006.

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Report is critical of Northern prison service

Jail and prison officer
CJINI said it was disappointed at the pace of change in the prison service
 

More than a third of recommendations made after a Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) report into the country’s prisons have not been “met in full” over a year later

That is the conclusion of a follow-up to the group’s November 2010 report into mistaken prisoner releases.

Four more prisoners had been released by mistake since then, the group said.

It added it was disappointed at the overall pace of change.

CJINI acknowledged there had been significant effort by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).

However, it said the work of the NIPS had “been focused on longer term process re-engineering and fundamentally neglected the immediacy of the ongoing risks”.

CJINI said that of the 25 NIPS recommendations following its initial report, 14 (56%) can now be said “to be met in full”.

It said a further 10 (40%) can be said to be partly completed and one (4%) discharged (no longer relevant).

Dr Michael Maguire, chief inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection said: “Well over one-third of the recommendations made have not been met in full some 15 months after the first report.

“For example, it is disappointing that formal training for front-line staff has still not been delivered, with the most notable for duty governors who are expected to authorise final release.

“There is also a need for job guidance and a continued focus on the full implementation of existing controls by way of supervision and quality checks.

Justice Minister

Compliance and quality assurance with robust mechanisms must be sustained.

“Both the operational and strategic focus needs to be maintained on the issues, and ultimately, the accelerated completion of all the outstanding recommendations.”

Justice Minister David Ford has instructed the prison service to “fully implement” the outstanding recommendations within the next six months.

He said he agreed that “despite considerable progress, the pace of change needs to quicken”.

“This report recognises the encouraging work and significant investment undertaken by the prison service to address this issue,” he added.

“However, it also identifies the need for the completion of the outstanding recommendations and I have instructed the prison service that this work must be finished by the end of September.”

Dr Maguire said the potential release in error of any prisoner could be a public protection issue.

“We need to strive for 100% accuracy where we can and that means getting the thing right at source, providing support to front-line training and making sure the right check and balances are in place is important,” he said.

Mr Ford acknowledged that the prison service had been criticised for the erroneous release of prisoners, but said the efforts of staff and management since then to address the problem deserved recognition.

“I agree with Dr Maguire’s statement that even when all the recommendations have been implemented in full, the risks of erroneous releases cannot be entirely eliminated,” he said.

“The prison service discharges around 4,500 prisoners from custody each year and is currently operating at an accuracy level of 99.74%, comparable with other services.

“Despite this, there can be no room for complacency and improving its arrangements to safeguard against further erroneous releases is part of fundamental change programme being undertaken by the prison service.”

 

WITH MANY THANKS TO : BBC NEWS NI.

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Jailed Catholics ‘less well off’

prison bars

Catholics in prisons in NI get fewer privileges than their Protestant counterparts, according to a report.

A survey by Criminal Justice Inspection found 80% of prison officers were Protestants and Catholic inmates receive less favourable treatment.

This inspection examined whether criminal justice agencies were meeting their legal obligation to ensure equality and human rights are promoted.

The Prison Service was strongly criticised in the report.

There is a question to be answered as to why the religion of a prisoner would have an impact on the regime that they experience within the Prison Service.
Dr Michael Maguire
Criminal Justice Inspection

Prison Service director Robin Masefield said they had no control over the religious backgrounds of people sent to jail.

“In the past number of years, we have had a higher proportion of Roman Catholics coming through, particularly on the remand side, so inevitably one’s getting something of a slight disproportionate make-up there,” he told the BBC.

The majority of prison wardens in Northern Ireland have historically been Protestant, and Mr Masefield said about 25% to 30% of recent applicants to the Prison Service were Catholic, something which was “not as high as the police but a step in the right direction”.

Mr Masefield said the Prison Service did not have 50-50 recruitment provisions like the police, but they had “made great strides in the recent past” and aimed to achieve a target of 35% Catholic applicants by 2011.

The report, published on Tuesday, looked at equality and human rights in every aspect of agencies’ operation, policies and practice.

BBC NI Home Affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney said: “Inspectors found that Catholic prisoners received fewer privileges than Protestants and the report calls on the prison service to investigate why this is the case.

The important thing about equality monitoring is that you do not take raw data without context and draw conclusions from that
Monica Fitzpatrick
Prison Service

“But the inspectors also criticise other agencies for failing to comply with their legal obligation to properly collect and monitor equality information.”

The report’s authors said there wasn’t enough information about how the criminal justice system treats defendants, victims or witnesses.

Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, said: “The report highlights the importance of collecting timely, relevant and comprehensive information.”

He added: “There is a question to be answered as to why the religion of a prisoner would have an impact on the regime that they experience within the Prison Service.”

Fluctuating

Privileges for prisoners include telephone access, television-watching and association with other inmates.

Prison Service equality adviser Monica Fitzpatrick said although she did not dispute the figures contained in the report, the proportion of prisoners from different religious backgrounds was constantly fluctuating.

“The important thing about equality monitoring is that you do not take raw data without context and draw conclusions from that,” she said.

Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins welcomed the report and said the criminal justice system was committed to equality.

He said two of CJI‘s recommendations were already in place and an action plan for the others had been drawn up.

The report was also welcomed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Chief Executive Evelyn Collins said: “Effective monitoring allows public bodies to identify and address any underlying issues which may impact on the promotion of equality.”

COLLLUSION IS NOT AN ILLUSION”

WE THINK IT’S NOW TIME AL HUTCHINSON FOR YOU TO RESIGN ” COLLLUSION IS NOT AN ILLUSION”

 
 
 
 
 
CIPR Specialist Website of the Year 2011
Investigations & Analysis – Northern Ireland
 
 
The aftermath of the Loughinisland massacre in 1994
 

BY BARRY McCAFFREY

 

THE Detail can today reveal the conclusions of the Police Ombudsman on the Loughinisland massacre: that the failure by police to secure convictions afterwards was down to incompetence and a lack of commitment – but not collusion.

The final report also leaves unanswered a key question of the families of the six men killed at The Heights bar 17 years ago: what the role of Special Branch was either before or after the attack.

More >

 
The six men killed in the Loughinisland massacre
 

Where was Special Branch in Loughinisland massacre?

BY BARRY MCCAFFREY

IF the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar atrocity highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the massacre.Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence” connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing attention to a “civil war” within his own office.More >

Inquests will be “front and centre” in dealing with the past – Attorney General

THE Attorney General John Larkin has confirmed that the inquest system here shall have a role “front and centre” in how Northern Ireland deals with the past.

 

Collusion in Loughinisland

 By Barry McCaffrey (for The Detail)


 If the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar attrocity
 highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into
 Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of
 the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the
 massacre.

 Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence”
 connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of
 the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over
 just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing
 attention to a “civil war” within his own office.

 One example is the sightings of the killers’ car in the south Down area
 in the weeks before the attack – clearly the domain of Special Branch,
 clearly a critical avenue for Mr Hutchinson to explore; but there is not
 a single reference to this: the context of the sighting; whether or how
 the information about it was dissipated within police circles; and
 whether it provided leads for the investigation.

 Also, more than 10 years ago police told the families that they had
 recovered a hair follicle on one of the killers’ balaclavas.

 The families were assured that police would be able to bring the killers
 to justice if just one bead of sweat was recovered from the balaclavas
 and boiler suits recovered.

 But despite the hair follicle appearing to be one of the most important
 forensic lines of inquiry there is no mention of it anywhere in the
 ombudsman’s report.

 The 56 page report – surprisingly only 26 pages of which is devoted to a
 five year-long investigation – provides no clarity on the Police
 Ombudsman’s relationship with Special Branch and the level of access he
 has achieved into Special Branch during this investigation; a pronounced
 contrast to the work of Nuala O’Loan on Omagh and the Mount Vernon UVF,
 which majored on the role of Special Branch in murders in which it was
 alleged that informers were protected from prosecution.

 Omagh and the Mount Vernon cases spanned the period of 1993 – 1998 and
 the Police Ombudsman found Special Branch activities in that era
 protected killers. Loughinisland occurred within the same timescale:
 June 1994 – yet still the role – or not – of Special Branch remains
 unexplored anywhere in this investigation.

 What is public knowledge, although unacknowledged in the Loughinisland
 report is that:

 *      in September 1994 there were 814 officers in RUC Special Branch;

 *      that by 1994 Special Branch had heavily penetrated both loyalist
 and republican groups, including the UVF in East Belfast;

 *      that the Loughinisland attack was mounted by the East Belfast UVF;

 *      in Omagh and Mount Vernon UVF cases and the murders of Pat
 Finucane, and Rosemary Nelson that Special Branch withheld information
 from the CID murder investigations.

 The apparent removal of this dimension from the Hutchinson approach has
 caused a deep split within the Police Ombudsman’s office – referred to
 recently by the ” Committee on the Administration of Justice “(CAJ)
 report.

 The Loughinisland investigation, in particular, has been known to be a
 source of anxiety internally, with some senior staff distancing
 themselves from the ombudsman’s perceived loss of independence.

 It also ties in with broader developments in investigations into the
 past: The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry reported back four weeks ago and the
 word “collusion” was not mentioned, allowing the Secretary of State,
 Owen Paterson to say that it therefore had not happened.

 Nationalists, led by the SDLP, have protested at the transfer of
 Northern Ireland Office personnel into senior positions within key
 agencies within the criminal justice system following the devolution of
 justice last year – and claims that a new agenda is playing out, aimed
 at shutting down sensitive areas of enquiry, particularly in the
 security sphere.

 So where does all this leave the relatives of the six men who died in
 The Heights Bar 17 years ago and who went to the Police Ombudsman’s
 office back in 2006 as their last hope for answers?

 One of the key questions they wanted addressed was: “the suspicion that
 collusion pervaded the circumstances of the attack … and the subsequent
 police investigation”. After an investigation lasting six years, has
 this fundamental question been answered?

 Tomorrow a political row is likely to play out on what turned out to be
 the focus of the report: the actual investigation by CID and Mr
 Hutchinson’s conclusions that it lacked leadership and commitment and
 failed to properly investigate all available lines of inquiry to bring
 the killers to justice. There’s little doubt that the quality of the
 Ombudsman’s investigation will itself become the focus of intention.

 Will anyone be satisfied with Mr Hutchinson’s final verdict on the
 subject of collusion in Loughinisland and his certainty that it didn’t
 happen in this case?

Dublin

Image by Paul Watson via Flickr

 Collusion in the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

The Following is a Statement by Former RUC Sergent John Weir :

Weir worked in Co Armagh in a Specialist anti-terroiest unit ( SPG ) Special Patrol Group.

He was part of a Paramiltry Group made up of the RUC, UDR and other Loyalists wo carried

out a bomb and gun attack at the Rock Bar near Keady but that the bomb failed to go off.

Weir said he’d learnt that a farmhouse owened by an RUC Reservist  at Glenanne called

James Mitchell had been used for many of the attacks. He also stated that a UDR intelligence

Officer had provided the explosives for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

A gang known as the Glenanne gang had carried out the murders of two men returning from

a GAA match in Dublin. They also carried out a bomb and gun attack on Donnelly’s Bar at

Silverbridge killing two men and a teenage boy and on the same night it carried out a bomb

attack in Dundalk which killed two men.

Also in 1976 it carried out an attack on the Reavey family home killing three brothers

John 24, Brain 22 and left thinking they had also killed Anthony 17 but he survied being

left for dead. On the same night it carried out a gun attack on the O’Dowd family home

were three were shot dead and one was seriously injured this was latter to be claimed

by the ( RHC ) Red Hand Commdandos.

Also another loyalist group known as ( DOW ) Down Orange Welfare was manufacturing

weapons at the farmhouse in Glenanne and that they were sold onto the UVF.

In 1977 Sergent Weir and Constable Billy McCaughey and two other notorious UVF

men carried out an attack known as the ” The Good Samaritan Murder; William Strathearn

ran a grocery store in Ahoghill and lived with his wife and seven childern above the shop.

He was awoken in the early hours with someone knocking on the door downstairs and

called out the window to ask what the person wanted. The man said he needed some aspirin

for a sick child. They shot him dead on his doorstep. The gang seemed to injoy attacking

large catholic familys,

Mc Caughey and Weir both received life sentences after admitting to their part.

Mr Justice Henry Barron in 2003 and 2006 also.

This also was held up by the European Court of Human Rights in 2008.

Ballistics evidence from all the attacks emeraged a complex and sinister web that showed

the same weapons turning up again and again in the killings.

They also found that arms found on RUC Reservists James Mittchells farm belonged to

the UVF and he was convicted of storing arms and sentenced.

Justice Barron also found that the farm owned by James  Mitchell was the hub of a loyalist

gang which consisted of members of both the RUC and the UDR, and that the gang was

involved in multiple murders including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and that the

security forces in Northern Ireland knew all about the Mitchells farm from as far back as

1976.  HE WAS NEVER CONVICTED OF ANY MURDERS !

Pat Finucane murder: a scary admission by the state

Hearing ‘state collusion in murder’ acknowledged from the dispatch box is a sobering experience. The fact that it is rare only serves to make it more so.

Owen Paterson delivers a statement in the House of Commons

The Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, makes a statement in the Commons on the killing of Pat Finucane. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

State collusion in murder is routinely alleged, often on flimsy evidence that doesn’t stand up to daylight. The public admission of “state collusion in murder” by a member of the cabinet is a rare event, to put it mildly.

It happened on Wednesday a few minutes after most MPs filed out of the Commons chamber after prime minister’s questions, leaving the Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, to utter the chilling words.

Yes, we are talking about the killing of Pat Finucane, the republican solicitor who was gunned by down by a hitman in front of his family during Sunday dinner at home in Belfast in February 1989.

A loyalist, Ken Barrett, was later sentenced to 22 years for the crime, but how did it happen? Who knew? Who did/didn’t do what?

As was pointed out during the Commons exchanges, many shocking things were done on both sides in the 30-year Troubles, during which3,500 people were killed. But the killing of Finucane was one of the most bitterly contested, not least because lawyers were regarded as untouchables under the informal rules of the conflict, also because a then minister, Douglas Hogg, of later “moat-cleaning” fame, made highly prejudicial remarks about the victim.

It’s all a long time ago and the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John (now Lord) Stevens, investigated the crime between 1999 and 2003, took 9,256 witness statements and created an archive with 1m pages.

Stevens concluded there was collusion with “rogue elements” of the state – a handy phrase sometimes is “rogue elements” – which placed the trigger man where he was. So did Canadian judge, Peter Cory (appointed by London and Dublin) in 2004, the year Tony Blair’s government promised the Finucane family a public inquiry.

It was never held because terms of reference acceptable to all sides could never be agreed.

Memories are long in Northern Ireland – the Battle of the Boyne (1690) was only yesterday – and what strikes English voters as history, best forgotten as life moves on, still matters to those directly involved.

Loyalists are just as intransigent as the republican side though they feel – said so again yesterday – that the IRA, its leadership (no names please!) and allies have got favoured treatment during the peace process.

What has brought it back into the news – though there’s been little coverage on this side of the Irish Sea – is that David Cameron invited Finucane’s widow and family to Downing Street on Tuesday to apologise in person and offer a way out of the impasse.

The nationalist (non-violent) SDLP’s leader, Margaret Ritchie, asked him about it towards the end of PMQs on Wednesday. He can read the exchange here along with Owen Paterson’s statement.

What Paterson proposed on Cameron’s behalf was a formula which the Finucanes had rejected 24 hours earlier, as the Guardian reported here. Here’s a BBC Northern Ireland backgrounder to the case which, as you’d expect, got plenty of coverage this week in the province.

What the coalition proposes to do is get Sir Desmond de Silva QC, a veteran of UN war crime prosecutions in Sierra Leone and other challenging briefs like the Gaza flotilla controversy, to “carry out an independent review to produce a full public account of any state involvement” by – Paterson’s own words – “the army, the [then] Royal Ulster Constabulary, the security service or other UK government body”.

You can probably see the government’s problem. Truth is the great healer, as Cameron told MPs on Wednesday, and sunshine – open evidence – is a great disinfectant too.

But the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday dragged on for years and cost £200m, a sum many may not feel was good value. Truth also has consequences, sometimes for institutions (see how the British army’s generally honourable record has been damaged by abuse in Iraq), sometimes for people whose own safety is threatened by their willingness to testify about what they know.

Don’t believe me? This is what Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has driven the backbench campaign against excesses by the Murdoch empire, told Paterson: “The former intelligence officer and private investigator Philip Campbell Smith has admitted to hacking the computer of another intelligence officer on behalf of Alex Marunchak of News International.

“Campbell Smith was arrested for witness intimidation of the very same intelligence officer, who was supposedly the only officer from the intelligence community co-operating with the Stevens inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane.

“It is alleged that when he was interviewed by the police he admitted that a special branch officer working on the Stevens investigation gave that personal information.

“I welcome the secretary of state’s commitment to allowing Sir Desmond access, presumably, to the police statement that was given, but if Sir Desmond wants to interview that special branch officer and that officer refuses, what powers will Sir Desmond have to get to the truth?”

Paterson’s answer was polite, if unsatisfactory. Such issues would be for the QC to resolve, but the MP should not imagine that Stevens and similar public inquiries – there have been several — got all the answers: Ian Paisley was once fined £5,000 for not turning up to give evidence he clearly didn’t want to give.

So Whitehall has come up with a rational solution: De Silva is a serious and experienced lawyer, who will spend the next year or so – his deadline is December 2012 – sifting the evidence, interviewing people and balancing the interests of the state, the Finucane family and the rest of us with a report that (with luck) satisfies everyone.

Does that formula satisfy them this week? As you can imagine, Tory and Unionist MPs endorsed the plan, the SDLP – Sinn Féin MPs don’t attend Westminster, they just draw the salaries and any expenses due from the hated British state – and Labour MPs argued that progress in the province is always made by consensus. If the Finucanes – and the Dublin government (which has its own police collusion murder probe under way) – won’t accept it, then it won’t work.

Even the saintly Paul Murphy, ex-secretary of state and a notably decent man, concluded ministers have made a mistake. Don’t forget that Cameron has generally done well over Northern Ireland – the tone of his apology for Bloody Sunday was well received in Catholic Derry.

But don’t forget either that assorted breakaway IRA men are restless – there was a bomb attack overnight on the City of Culture office in Derry – while Stormont’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness (now his career would make an interesting public inquiry!), is on a sabbatical standing for the presidency of Ireland. Just because the situation is currently manageable doesn’t mean it will remain so. Public spending cuts will hit Northern Ireland hard too.

We’ll see what happens next. But hearing “state collusion in murder” acknowledged from the dispatch box is a sobering experience. The fact that it is rare only serves to make it more so.

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