Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Sinn Féin = Ourselves and the Brits

Two significant things have happened in the last forty-eight hours. First up, the SDLP and the DUP criticised new guidelines on community restorative justice schemes. The SDLP labelled them a "political cop-out" while the DUP said they were flawed. However, the guidelines have been welcomed by Sinn Fein and groups which run projects in nationalist areas. Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly denied the community restorative justice scheme was an alternative to a policing service.

Interestingly, BBC NI political editor Mark Davenport highlighted potential problems...

"Under the proposals, the police will have to be informed if community restorative justice groups want to handle a specific case.

"However in republican areas, there will be no obligation on those running schemes to contact police officers directly.

"Instead, they can contact the Probation Board or Youth Justice Agency, which will pass a proposal by a community restorative justice group on to the police.

"Alternatively, the proposal could be passed to an advisory panel featuring the PSNI and representatives of the scheme, Probation Board or Youth Justice Agency.

"The police will then consider if there needs to be any action - such as fingerprinting - before referring the case to the Public Prosecution Service, which will ultimately decide if it should be handled by a community restorative justice scheme."

Hmm. It seems to me this 'community restorative scheme' is simply vigilante rule in fancy clothing! Without a doubt, this will concern unionists.

The second significant thing which happened in the last forty-eight hours concerned the news that the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, based on the south Armagh border, will be
leaving the North in the middle of January.

British troop numbers in the North are set to be cut to a 30-year low in 2006 and will mean the number of soldiers will fall below 9,000, lower than at any time since the early 1970's.

For the first time since the Troubles began, only troops in battalions normally resident in the North will be serving there.

Now you won't be surprised to learn that I welcome these moves but, again, I imagine they will concern unionists seeing as we are yet to receive confirmation from the Independent Monitoring Commission that the IRA have kept their noses clean since they announced an end to their armed campaign.

The reason these two things are so significant is because they are two of many examples in recent weeks of moves on the British government's part to to please Sinn Féin, even if it's at the expense of unionists. Not long ago I ran a poll asking if the British wanted rid of NI. Now more than ever it seems that they do. Unionist concerns have been constantly ignored. Let me sum up the actions of the British in recent weeks:

- British Secretary of State Peter Hain declared that the NI economy was unsustainable in the long term and recommended an all-Ireland model

- The British government pushed ahead with the On-The-Run legislation

- The British pushed ahead with their plans to reduce the number of district councils in the North

- The British have pushed ahead with their plans for community restorative justice schemes

- The British have pushed ahead with their plans to reduce British troop numbers in the North.

We are approaching Christmas fast at this stage but it doesn't seem like the unionists will be getting any presents from the British!

So I'd like to ask any unionist visitors to United Irelander you feel the British want you in the Union?


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