Take a look at this post… ‘Report Finding: British Government’s legacy bill is in breach of the Good Friday Agreement’.


Further concerns over rights of Irish citizens in the north over Brexit

[Caroline Nokes’s] position makes a mockery of the agreement’s pledge that it is the ‘birth right’ of people born in the North to be accepted as Irish or British (or both) – Daniel Holder

◾ANGER: Deputy Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) Daniel Holder

CONCERNS have been raised again about the rights of people in the North claiming Irish citizenship after Brexit.

It comes after a statement by British immigration minister Caroline Nokes on the same day Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to examine difficulties faced by Irish citizens who want to bring family members into the North. Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) people have the right to Irish or British citizenship. In response to a parliamentary question this week, Ms Kokes said: “Irish citizens resident in the UK who do not hold British citizenship will be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they choose. However, they do not need to so under the reciprocal Common Travel Area arrangements with Ireland.” The EU Settlement Scheme will allow EU citizens to continue living in Britain or the North of Ireland after Brexit.

However, the Home Office has previously said it views people born in the North as British, a position some believe including myself is contrary to the GFA. It has ment that family members of people born in the North of Ireland but claiming Irish citizenship may have difficulty securing residency. Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice expressed concern. “Under the current Home Office position that the North of Ireland-born people should be treated as British, this means that no Irish citizen born in the North could benefit from the retained EU citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, that are to be accessed by the EU Settlement Scheme,” he said. Mr Holder said Ms Nokes is at odds with the GFA.

“Her position makes a mockery of the agreement’s pledge that it is the ‘birth right’ of people born in the North to be accepted as Irish or British (or both),” he said. Back in December 2017 separate UK-EU commitments were made for arrangements for Irish citizens residing in the North of Ireland to continue to be able to exercise EU rights – but these arrangements were never put into place.

“This Home Office position means Irish citizens here may be among the only EU citizens not to have a mechanism to retain some of their EU rights.” Ms Nokes caused controversy last year when she admitted to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that she had not read the Good Friday Agreement “in its entity”. A Home Office spokesman said on Wednesday night it was ” absolutely committed to upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement which confirms the birth right of the people of the North of Ireland to identify as British or Irish or both, as they may choose, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship. “We respect the right of the people in the North of Ireland to choose how they identify,” he said.

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

THE IRISH NEWS     Pro fide et patria

Rights battle was ludicrous hurdle

WHILE Theresa May offered little fresh thinking on the Brexit crisis during her two-day visit to Belfast, which ended on Wednesday, she deserves credit for indicating that the alarming saga over citizenship rights endured by Co Derry woman Emma DeSouza could at last be close to a positive outcome.

Mrs DeSouza, as a holder of an Irish passport, was ludicrously told by the UK’s Home Office that she needed to declare herself to be a British citizen if her US-born husband, Jake, was to be granted a visa officially allowing him to live at their Magherafelt home.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998

After the issue was repeatedly highlighted by The Irish News, Mrs May said she had specifically asked Home Office Sajid Javid to consider how such cases could be addressed as a matter of urgency. There will be relief when Mr DeSouza’s application is finally approved but it remains disturbing that his wife needed to go to court in order to demonstrate her entitlement to an Irish identity under the Good Friday Agreement.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.



Opaque and dangerously unaccountable: the verdict on MI5 five years on

05 DECEMBER 2012


MI5 Headquarters Palace Barracks Holywood / Press Eye


The unaccountable influence of MI5 on covert policing in Northern Ireland coupled with the NIO’s deliberate attempt to circumvent proper scrutiny of the actions of the security services has created a `disaster waiting to happen’, a new report into anti-terror structures has warned.

The 100 page report: `The Policing You Don’t See: Covert Policing and The Accountability Gap’, has been compiled by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and looks at the role of MI5 since it was give primary control of `national security’ in Northern Ireland in 2007.

However CAJ director Brian Gormally has now called for an independent review into the activities of the security services in Northern Ireland after the human rights watchdog obtained documents which it claims shows a deliberate attempt to rollback accountable policing structures established as a result of the Patten reforms.

“MI5 – secret, unreformed and unaccountable – is now running one of the most sensitive areas of policing,” said Mr Gormally.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen to confidence in the rule of law and our peace settlement.

“CAJ wants a full, independent review with the aim of bringing covert policing here in line with human rights standards.”


Report claims MI5 is being protected by NIO from proper scrutiny


In 2006 the British government gave a commitment during all party talks at St Andrews that there would be a series of built-in safeguards to ensure accountable policing in Northern Ireland following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Crucial to the future of policing in Northern Ireland was a series of reforms recommended by the Patten Commission.

The commission, chaired by former NIO minister Chris Patten, advocated the establishment of published codes of practice for all aspects of policing in Northern Ireland, including covert law enforcement techniques, which it said should be compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Patten said that while the codes of practice should be made public: “…this does not mean, for example, that all details of police operational techniques should be released – they clearly should not – but the principles, and legal and ethical guidelines governing all aspects of police work should be, including such covert aspects as surveillance and the handling of informants…The presumption should be that everything should be available for public scrutiny unless it is in the public interest – not the police interest – to hold it back.”. (Emphasis in original Patten report)

He recommended the establishment of a Commissioner for Covert Law Enforcement to oversee surveillance and the use of informants, with inspection and disclosure powers over the PSNI and other agencies “to ascertain if covert policing was being used within the law and only when necessary.”

The commission also recommended the downsizing, deinstitutionalisation and integration of RUC Special Branch within the PSNI, stating that it did not regard it as healthy to have, in either reality or perception, ‘a force within a force’.

However the CAJ report says that in contradiction to Patten’s vision for an accountable police force, what has emerged since the St Andrews Agreement and later in 2010 the transfer of policing and justice powers, is an alternative police force answerable only to NIO ministers, rather than elected politicians at Stormont.

The report says that the safeguards promised at St Andrews in relation to the transfer of powers to MI5 have either been reneged upon or manipulated to dilute accountability measures.

Accusing the British government of deliberately manipulating the promised safeguards to ensure that its security services are not held to the same level of scrutiny as local policing structures, Mr Gormally said:

“Since the St Andrews Agreement perhaps the most sensitive area of policing is being run by a parallel police force – ‘a force outside a force’ – answerable to ‘direct rule’ ministers and subject to separate and ineffective oversight arrangements.”

CAJ obtained a series of official NIO documents, using the Freedom of Information Act, which it says reveals the full extent of a deliberate policy to prevent proper scrutiny of the actions of the security services in Northern Ireland.

“Limited additional accountably measures were promised in the St Andrews Agreement but some of the most significant commitments, to publish policy frameworks, have not been honoured.

“Related policy documents, which have been released to CAJ under Freedom of Information, rather than being safeguards, actually appear designed to limit accountability.

“This includes an NIO held document which contains a list of types of information (the) Chief Constable should not tell the Policing Board, even in confidential sessions.

“The documents we have discovered show an obsession with keeping anything with the label ‘national security’ secret from our devolved institutions and a total indifference to accountability.”


The policing reforms recommended by Patten were intended to end the power of Special Branch within the policing architecture.

However CAJ say the unaccountable transfer of powers to MI5 has made it impossible to determine the security agency’s policy approach towards covert policing and whether or not it complies with human rights standards.

It says that contrary to British government assurances at the time, the role of both the Policing Board and Police Ombudsman have been diminished by the transfer of powers to MI5.

Despite its involvement in policing in Northern Ireland the Police Ombudsman has no powers to investigate a complaint against MI5.

Assurances were given during the St Andrew’s talks that MI5 would give closed session briefings to the Policing Board, yet only three such meetings have taken place in the last five years.

While then Prime Minister Tony Blair gave assurances that all PSNI officers would remain under the control of the Chief Constable and the Policing Board, the documents obtained by CAJ paint a very different picture.

“This ( assurance) is contradicted by these documents which in effect stipulate that PSNI officers, up to and including the Chief Constable, working on national security matters are not accountable to the Policing Board but rather to the NIO.”

Colin Duffy with family a Free Man

MI5 Director General lamented acquittal of Colin Duffy as a boost to dissidents / press eye


Little is known about the role or number of MI5 officers operating in Northern Ireland.

The agency’s headquarters are understood to be based at Loughside at Palace Barracks near Hollywood.

MI5 publicly states that it dedicates 17% of its resources to the region which, if equated to overall staffing levels, means it has 600 officers in Northern Ireland, around three quarters the size of the old RUC Special Branch at the time of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Its most recent annual report provides information on what MI5 describes as its ‘successes and setbacks’ in Northern Ireland over the last five years.

Among the successes MI5 claims is its role in the arrest of south Armagh man Michael Campbell who was arrested trying to buy weapons for the Real IRA in Lithuania in 2008.

It also claims to have helped to secure the convictions of CIRA men John Paul Wooten and Brendan McConville for the murder of PSNI officer Steven Carroll in Craigavon three years ago and the jailing of Co Derry man Brian Shivers for the killing of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Antrim, also in March 2009.

It lists its `setbacks’ as the acquittal of Colin Duffy over the Massereene attack (which the MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans lamented would be good for dissident morale) and the acquittal on grounds of entrapment by MI5 of Lurgan man Desmond Kearns who was facing weapons smuggling charges.


The report states that there is a growing belief that a significant number of former Special Branch officers simply moved en masse over to MI5 following the transfer of powers in 2007.

Outlining speculation that the old Special Branch has simply been subsumed into the new MI5, the report states:

“At a recent policing conference held at the University of Ulster there appeared to be consensus among some commentators that the “force within a force” had in essence just “moved down the road.”

“Whilst it may never be possible to verify this, such a phenomenon would clearly be regressive in relation to the framework provided by Patten.”

The report said that it has uncovered evidence of a deliberate ‘rollback’ of the overall mechanisms which had been set up under Patten to ensure proper policing accountability.

One of the first attempts to thwart any investigation of the role of the security services came in 2005 when the British government passed the Inquiries Act, which gave NIO ministers the power to withhold potential evidence from public inquiries.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission later claimed the move would make it impossible to hold truly independent inquiries.

CAJ say that more evidence of protection for the security services was exposed in 2011 when a report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) concluded that Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson’s reports into historic cases involving the police had been “altered or rewritten to exclude criticism of the RUC with no explanation.”

Last month a report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office found that hundreds of former RUC officers had been re-employed by the PSNI as civilian workers without proper scrutiny.


Following the St Andrews talks the British government introduced two crucial Memorandums of Understandings (MoU) to ensure that Justice Minister David Ford and the Policing Board have no powers to scrutinise the actions of MI5.

Legislation in the first memorandum established that:

• The devolved Minister of Justice and Northern Ireland Assembly have no responsibility for any PSNI functions (past, present or future) that have any national security dimension, with the Secretary of State having sole responsibility.

• UK government will determine what information pertaining to national security can be shared [with the devolved Minister of Justice] and on what terms and that information on the modus operandi of MI5 and other agencies “will not be shared”

• NIO will retain ownership and control of access to all pre-devolution records while the Department of Justice will have no access to records relating to ‘national security’

• Police and Prisoner Ombudsman will report to the NIO Secretary of State on ‘national security’ matters; when the Minister of Justice or Policing Board set up a panel to adjudicate on misconduct by a police officer, if the case relates to national security information the UK government will decide what information can be passed on to the panel and, if information is withheld, whether the panel can be informed of that fact.

The CAJ director said that the second memorandum, rather than being an effective safeguard to protect new policing structures, actually appeared designed to limit accountability.

This included an NIO document listing types of information Chief Constable Matt Baggott should not tell the Policing Board, even in confidential sessions.

“The documents we have discovered show an obsession with keeping anything with the label ‘national security’ secret from our devolved institutions and a total indifference to accountability,” Mr Gormally said.

The second memorandum stated that:

• The Policing Board “has no role in national security matters or related

executive policing decisions.”

• Policing Board members questions on matters that “indirectly touch upon

national security” should not be answered if it might damage national

security interests.

• The Chief Constable should refer any such requests relating to “past, present

or future” national security to MI5 or the NIO.

• The Chief Constable must not tell the Policing Board any information from or

relating to MI5 without MI5’s authority to do so.


NIO have control over national security in Northern Ireland prisons / press eye


The CAJ report reveals that the NIO’s powers stretch beyond policing with control over parts of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPRS) and Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

While Justice Minister David Ford has control of the day-to-day running of Northern Ireland’s prisons, the report found that the NIO has control over `national security’ issues within the jails.

Issues, such as the rules for who should be held in ‘separated’ paramilitary wings, surveillance and intelligence are retained by the Secretary of State.

Prison staff who are deemed to be engaging in such ‘national security’ related activity stop being accountable to the devolved administration and instead become ‘officers of the Secretary of State’ and are only answerable to the NIO.

Among the documents obtained by CAJ was a warning which stated that:

“Officials indicate that if this legislative direction granting such control over officials had not been agreed, MI5 and the NIO would have refused to allow any prison service staff to handle any such information.”

The report also makes reference to a ‘developing relationship’ between MI5 and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), due to ‘particular concerns’ the security service has that sensitive information revealing MI5 techniques may be exposed in court.

A key recommendation of Patten was the establishment of a Commissioner of Investigatory Powers who was to have been tasked with overseeing the covert duties of the PSNI and other agencies carrying out policing functions.

However while the position was established, it has only powers to oversee non-policing devolved bodies such as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and health service bodies.

While the CAJ director said that significant policing reforms have taken place he insists that the evidence exists of a worrying pattern of attempts to dilute the Patten reforms.

“In addition to the transfer to MI5, this is manifested in relation to, for example, the `lowering of independence’ of the Police Ombudsman’s office during the tenure of the second Police Ombudsman, and the PSNI rehiring scandal. The transfer of further covert policing functions to the ‘National Crime Agency’ which government presently intends to insert into Northern Ireland with full policing powers and be accountable to ministers and not the Policing Board, would further entrench such developments.

“Taken in isolation such occurrences could be viewed as anomalies, however when viewed together it is difficult not to conclude that there has been a concerted effort to roll back accountability.”

Related resources

CAJ report: `Policing you Don’t See: Covert Policing and the Accountability

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SUPPORT OUR P.O.W’s. UPDATE: Another Brutal attack on the Harry Fitzsimons by loyalist prison officers in Maghaberry Prison


 Harry was severely beaten on saturday 28th of may, we had a visit with him the next day Sunday 29th, Myself his partner Paula and his 4yr old daughter and 5yr old son, After being verbally abused by loyalist screws on the way in, we then had to wait 3…0 minutes in the visiting room for them to bring Harry in last, as all the other p.o.w’s were brought in first. When they finally brought him in,We knew what to expect but were shocked at the state of his face multiple cuts an bruises, when i gently hugged him he was in pain he said his ribs were so sore, his jaw an chin is swollen also his wrist, we cant say they’r broken because he hasnt had any medical attention, no xrays no painkillers, nothing. He said they entered his cell and forced him to the ground, kicking and punching him to the face and body smashing his glasses into his face causing the cuts and bruising, they held his arms behind his back while covering his mouth an nose so he couldn’t breath and pass out, still kicking him and punching him, they trailed him over to the radiator by the hair whilst naked, to bash his face off it, this went on for full 20 minutes non-stop, whilst trailing his clothes off his body and  all through the ordeal they were screaming into his face ‘your nothing’ ‘dirty bastard’ and  ‘no good scumbag’  Harry said this was an unprovoked attack, other pow’s confirmed this on the visit yesterday. he requested to see a Doctor yesterday after the beating and still hasnt seen one I phoned maghaberry prison Sunday morning before the visit and was put through to Roe house, I enquired about the reports that were coming out of the prison about Harry getting a beating from the riot squad and laughily they told me ‘They dont beat their prisoners and no ones been beaten in here’ and ‘sure you can see him yourself when you come up to visit him today’  and hung up. As we all seen for ourselves not surprisingly, They were lying once again. I found out an hour after the phonecall it was actually the riots squad i was conversing with as they are running the wing. The p.o.w’s visitors were outside after the visit and each of them, appaulled and disgusted they were not surprised at this brutal assault on our p.o.w’s and agreed to fill out a complaints form for Pauline Mc Cabe the ombudsman for maghaberry to say how they witnessed the injuries Harry sustained from this vicious attack. I as his sister plead with anyone who reads this to please get in touch with their local councillor, human rights and anyone else who they think may be of some help to get the 12th of August agreement implimented. Anyone can phone this number here in belfast and leave message for Monica Mc Williams about the beatings p.o.w’s in maghaberry prison, she works for human rights and is a dedicated worker in this field its 02890 243987   HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS Irish Council for Civil Liberties, 9-13 Blackhall Place, Dublin-7   Ph: +353-1-799 4504 Fax: +353-1-799 4512 Email: info@iccl.ie   NEW ADDRESS: Association for the Prevention of Torture, Route des Morillons 5 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex     Association for th…e Prevention of Torture      PO. Box 2267  CH-1211 Geneva 2 SWITZERLAND   E-mail : apt@apt.ch   Website : www.apt.ch Fax : +41 (22) 919 21 80 Phone : +41 (22) 919 21 70   AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL International Secretariat The International Secretariat is responsible for the majority of the organization’s research and leads our campaigning work, based in London, UK.Telephone: +44-20-74135500Fax  +44-20-79561157  Address: 1 Easton Street London WC1X 0DW, UK     Committee on the Administration of Justice – CAJ 2nd Floor, Sturgen Building 9-15 Queen Street Belfast BT1 6EA   Tel – 028 9031 6000 Fax – 028 9031 4583 Email – info@caj.org.uk   British Irish Rights Watch 13b Hillgate Place London SW12 9ES email: birw@birw.org fax: (+44) 020 8772 9162   Human Rights Watch in Northern Ireland Ulster Human Rights Watch, PO Box 163, Lisburn, Northern Ireland, BT28 3UN, tel. 07759212861   Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Temple Court 39 North Street Belfast Northern Ireland BT1 1NA Tel: +44 (0) 28 9024 3987See more

SUPPORT OUR P.O.W’s. UPDATE: Another Brutal attack on the Harry Fitzsimons by loyalist prison officers in Maghaberry Prison
SUPPORT OUR P.O.W’s against the Loyalist prison regime

This happened in Long Kesh in the 70’s it is now happening in Maghaberry Today
H…elp Stop it now Phone your Local councillor, human rights and anyone else who they think may be of some help to stop the abuse of our p.o.w’s in Roe house in Maghaberry prison and to get the 12th of August agreement implimented.
Pauline Mc Cabe is the Ombudsman for Maghaberry and deals with complaints, shes entitled to make unannounced visits to the gaol, its freephone 08007836317, her office 02890443982 or email her pa@prisonerombudsman.xgs.gov.uk
or Monica Mc Williams about the beatings p.o.w’s in maghaberry prison, she works for human rights and is a dedicated worker in this field its 02890 243987See more

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