So they think it’s all over in Northern Ireland?
August 6th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

So they think it’s all over in Northern Ireland?

By Jane Winter, Special to CNN

Jane Winter is director of British Irish Rights Watch, an independent non-governmental organization. The views expressed are her own.

Peace has broken out and nobody needs to worry about Northern Ireland anymore. At least, that’s what the British government would like you to think. The reality is different.

Fourteen years on from the Belfast/Good Friday peace agreement brokered by U.S. Senator George Mitchell, active paramilitaries are still out there with the capacity to inflict serious violence and do real damage to the peace process. Hardly a day passes without an attack on the police or some innocent Catholic or Protestant.

However, it’s not just the paramilitaries that put the peace process at risk; our decision makers also have a lot to answer for.

Who would have thought that in 2012, there would once again be a protest in one of Northern Ireland’s prisons that mirrors the hunger strikes back in the 1980s? Who would have believed that, for the second time in her life, Marian Price, convicted of IRA bombings in London in the 1970s, would find herself the only female prisoner in an all-male jail, simply because there’s no high-security facility for female prisoners in Northern Ireland?  Who would have believed that the Police Ombudsman would be forced to resign over his lack of independence?

Who would have expected the government to ditch the Bill of Rights that was promised in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement to reflect the particular needs of Northern Ireland as it moved from conflict to an uneasy peace? Who would have dreamed that the groundbreaking police Historical Enquiries Team, which is looking at unsolved murders arising out of the conflict, would end up having to refer viable cases back to the very police service it was investigating?  Who would have foreseen that, having set up at considerable public expense a Consultative Group on the Past, the government would simply bury its recommendations virtually without a trace?

And, finally, who could have imagined that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron would summon the family of Patrick Finucane, a lawyer murdered in 1989 with the involvement of military intelligence, the police, and the intelligence service MI5, only to tell them that he would not give them the inquiry public opinion believes  they deserve?

The situation in Northern Ireland may seem like chicken feed when compared with the problems in many other countries, but Northern Ireland has many lessons for the rest of the world about dealing with counterterrorism, unfortunately most of them negative. It’s a tragedy that the British army, while deployed in Iraq, is accused of using the same techniques of torture and ill-treatment that it developed during internment without trial in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. This despite promises to the U.K. Parliament and to the European Court of Human Rights that those methods would never be used again.

It’s equally tragic that something akin to internment is under contemplation in the U.K in draft legislation, and that evidence has emerged pointing to complicity by British intelligence services in torture in third countries. Such actions simply create more terrorists and more martyrs to their cause.  We ignore the lessons of Northern Ireland at our peril.

That’s why friends of Northern Ireland, in the United States, the Republic of Ireland, and elsewhere in the world, shouldn’t take their eye off the ball. It was their friendship and leadership, especially in the United States, that made the peace process possible and kept it alive. Their scrutiny is vital to ensuring that Northern Ireland doesn’t slip quietly back into undeclared war, but finds a way of moving forward into a truly democratic and peaceful future where there is respect for everyone’s human rights.

As a first step toward turning the spotlight on Northern Ireland, those friends should be asking the British government what it intends to do about delivering the Bill of Rights it promised for Northern Ireland.

Jane Winter is director of British Irish Rights Watch, an independent non-governmental organization. The views expressed are her own.

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soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    There is no way that the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland are going to like each other. It's the same way with the Russians and the Poles despite the best efforts of the Communists in both countries after WW2 to reconcile the two. Then again, it's also true between the Arabs and the Jews, too.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Reply
    • Nina

      You are right, just like the Ẓāhirī, the Hanbali, the Ahl as-Sunnah, the Maliki, the Shafi`i, the Hanafi – not one muslim Madhhab will get along.

      August 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
      • USMC Forever

        Come on, Nina. Joseph made a very intelligent statement above. Please don't answer him with your Tea Party limitations. You should study the histories of both England and Ireland as almost no Tea Partier did but then again, what do most Tea Partiers know anyway?

        August 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
      • Nina

        Joseph McCarthy & USMC Forever is the same person.

        August 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
      • Uber News Network (UNN) ©


        A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India. Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations. The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them.

        August 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
      • nina

        Uber News Network (UNN) ©
        Joseph McCarthy
        USMC Forever
        All are the same guy, must be a personality disorder.

        August 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • Jaybird

        Gee whiz, Nina. Why do you continue to consider those of us with a high school education as having personality issues. Getting past the 7th grade doesn't give anyone mental or personality issues. Get over it, please or get educated!

        August 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
      • nina

        hehehe Highschool education hehehehehe...

        August 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
      • muslim traitor

        Jaybird. Joseph. USMC.Uber switching moniker does not make your comments more intelligent. You are still an idiot bigot.

        August 8, 2012 at 10:07 am |
      • Rina

        At a meeting held in New Delhi, the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, said the rise of fundamentalism was “seriously worrying” the church in India. The meeting was held to discuss prospects for immediate enactment of federal legislation to counter religious extremism with the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill.

        August 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • Nana

        Based out of Goa, a western state with a substantial number of Christians, the Sanatan Sanstha provides the ideological base for Hindu militant groups. It has close links with the Sri Ram Sene and publishes a periodical, Sanatan Prabhat, which occasionally spews hate against Christians.

        August 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  2. papafoote

    What Do You Think – "NOW"?

    Does Anyone Else – "CARE"?

    The Old Goat Thinks It's Past The Time For Thoughtful Thinking, It's The Time For – "ACTION"!

    August 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  3. Jeff

    I have two friends in Northern Ireland and they say things have generally been fine... this is what's called professional "rights activists" not knowing what to do with themselves anymore so they need to start spending their time writing over-dramatized exaggerated articles on overseas websites to try to keep themselves relevant.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • Jasper Beardley

      Jeff – you're absolutely spot on.

      Jane Winter really needs to find more valuable things to do with her time than pathetic attempts to whip up some kind of outrage where there is no outrage to be had.

      So a female terrorist is kept in a male high security prison – I'm not sure anyone really cares for her. Perhaps Ms Price had devoted herself to peaceful and law abiding activities within a democracy, like most of the rest of us, she wouldn't find herself in the situation she is in.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:15 am | Reply
      • kjk01

        People do care for her ...

        August 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • kjk01

      I'm not sure that the opinion of 'two friends' living in Northern Ireland is statistically relevent enough to challenge the author's information. I'm sure I can find two people who think the earth is flat.

      August 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  4. Philip

    This is an article written without any evidence. "Hardly a day passes without an attack on the police or some innocent Catholic or Protestant" Prove it!

    August 7, 2012 at 1:49 am | Reply
  5. mentalscutter

    Hi from NI.
    Philip and Jeff have good points there. Things are generally fine, albeit far from perfect. I'd say about 98% of people think things are better than anyone remembers and will continue to improve. There are always public order problems during the summer marching season, but a lot of the venom (interest) has gone out of it compared to 10 or 15 years ago.
    As for British-Irish rights watch? Who or what on Earth are they? Where does their mandate or finance come from?

    August 7, 2012 at 4:03 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed the so-called "residual terrorist threat" still haunts the British authorities. Marian Price remains in custody after the secretary of state decided to revoke her release licence a year ago. In a statement he said: "My priority is the safety of the people of Northern Ireland". So the British authorities will not hesitate to use all the powers at their disposal under the law to counter that threat. The spectre of the troubled past might hang like the Sword of Damocles over the peace treaty brokered in 1998.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:37 am | Reply
  7. Gary from Northern Ireland

    Why has my comment not been added?

    August 7, 2012 at 7:04 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Evidently Gary, you must be an anti-English liberal. I don't think that either CNN or any other right-wing news media organization wants the English to have their feelings hurt!

      August 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  8. Bill Beal

    The haters are at it again. Left wing CNN news should not be recognized as fact. Ireland was never a united country so why should it be united now. The people must make that decision either way not the terror organizations.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Nina

      You sound like a hater to me.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      CNN "left-wing"? Get real, Bill. All Western news media is right-wing, some more so than others. Then again, Fox News Network is more right-wing than CNN is. Did you notice how the right-wing media villifies Bashar al-Assad while touting the so-called "rebels" as freedom fighters in Syria? I did!

      August 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  9. Seamus60

    We yet again have Gerrymandering and political discrimination raising its ugly head. Both objectives of the Civil rights marchers in 1969. We have Internment, the very issue that allowed Mc Guinness and Adams to draw people on to the streets and waves of recruits into the IRA. We have seen the total failure of Patton reform to the RUC/PSNI who retain most of the old guard through the back door. Marian Price had a licence she doesn`t have revoked as she had a Royal Pardon, when this was pointed out to the SOS he said the Royal Pardon was lost and came up with other charges out of thin air. It is those charges that now keep this woman in prison. A judge recently questioned the legality of her detention and went on to question the so called independant parole board who refused her release. He granted her bail yet she remains in custody on the orders of the SOS. Normal democracy ?

    August 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  10. pete

    im from northern ireland and the biggest threat to peace is the republican splinter terrorist groups with which Price is associated with.

    Whats the big deal in jailing Price again , she had her chance and blew her freedom by becoming involved with republican active terror units , anywhere else in the world this would be welcomed when terrorists are caught and jailed so that ordinary protestants and catholics can have a better chance living in peace .

    The inquirys into past crimes etc is totally one sided ... civilians who lost loved ones due to IRA terror bombs will never get justice due to the one sided nature of the inquirys

    August 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  11. Anthony Mc Glynn

    Sorry to say that Jane is on the ball on this one. If not Marian Price ask Gerry Mc Geough or Martin Cory if the Peace in the North of Ireland is working for them. Or the 5 people who where in court last Thursday in Belfast. The British Government had since 2007 started to pick up the very people that played a major part in making the PEACE in the North work. Yes the volunteers men and women of the P.I.R.A. WHO STOPED THEIR WAR so we could have Peace in our time.
    We are not seen UDA,UVF,UFF.or LVF, people picked up only P.I.R.A. Why because the where working whit the Brits. Once again they are trying to devide the good working class people of the North, every time in history when people are trying to work with each other the Brits put a spanner in the works. The Peace in the North of Ireland is in trouble and it is only those that made it happen can stop up going back to the bad old day's. Plesae in the name of God don't let this happen, I belive every person has a good brain in their head LOOK AT WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU

    August 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • mussie

      YOU ARE COMPLETELY DELUDED!!! There you are, I can shout too. The british people have been well and truly shafted by bliar and his peace plan. It seems all the concessions were made by the British government, and all the terrorists did was rebadge themselves, maybe throw in a few old and generally useless weapons, but keep their lucrative drug/smuggling/protection rackets. I think we should have stuck with the shoot to kill policy – I know that means the british government lowering themselves to the standards of the terrorists, but at least it means a level playing field, and it is a lot cheaper than keeping them alive in prison.

      August 8, 2012 at 7:52 am | Reply
  12. Joey

    Only wishful fools thought it was over, check the history, its a generational thing.

    August 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • nina

      Oh really, please tell us more!

      August 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  13. extremes

    i don't think its over yet, but one can always hope that things get better there.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  14. Jay

    The terrorists in N.Ireland were able to legitimize their ill-gotten wealth during the peace process. The guys who weren't included formed splinter groups for the sole purpose of continuing their life of organized crime. There is no cause anymore.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  15. AEireM

    A united Ireland is the solution.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  16. Worm Factory DS3GT 3-Tray Worm Composter

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community shall be grateful to you.

    August 8, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
    • Jamil


      August 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  17. sarahm

    I continue to be amazed at how little Americans knows about the north of Ireland, the politics, the conflict's origins and who the "terrorists" are. Let's be clear that Jane Winter of BIRW, an organization that has been around for a long time. is spot on with her concerns particularly as commitments post-Good Friday Agreement, Patton, Weston Park, etc. have all been ignored by the British Government. It is no small thing that individuals are still being interned, that investigations will not be conducted on the murders of Finucane, Rosemary Nelson or that the British Govt refuse to give over records regarding the Dublin-Monaghan bombings (bombings in the republic by loyalists with the help of British agents) for chris sake. But rump RUC contractors will direct the HET to a so-called criminal investigation into Jean McConville's murder by utilizing a treaty between the US and UK for evidence in Boston College's Library. The BC case shoud have all Americans very very worried that foreign governments can use these treaties (MLATs) and have our Dept of Justice jump at their beck and call while the State Dept sits on its hands. There is disaffection among many Republicans about the current Govt. in the north and a new republican dissident group recently gave its inaugural address.because they feel too much has been sacrificed and not enough given. Loyalism isn't just sitting on the sidelines here either. They will watch and see what happens for if they perceive a threat, they will push back. The Brits have alot to answer for with their long grass mentality and the US Govt should be ashamed of themselves for not standing up to the Brits. Jane Winter's piece is one of the first articles I've seen in the mainstream media that speaks to truth. Good job – CNN: continue to seek out people who actually know what they are talking about –

    August 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  18. Peace

    I want Northern Ireland to do well. Peace.

    August 8, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  19. Joe Patterson

    Jane Winters as Director of the British Irish Rights watch, Aug. 6, 2012 continues to ignore the Irish Rights in the Republic of Ireland. Why?
    As a Protestant former owner of a butchering business in Co. Donegal in the Republic of Ireland from 1860's until we were forced out by a Labour Union/IRA in 1973, denied access to an Irish Court of Law.
    In a Legal Opinion I am told that any agreement with a Labour Union is worthless, bomb, death threats, theft, breach of contract, conflict of interest is described as"union agitation that is allowed".
    There are approximately 4,000 victims of a corrupt legal system in the Republic of Ireland, I would suggest that Ms. Winters would get a new perspective of the Ulster Unionist refusal to get involved in a United Ireland and will explain the 14-15% unemployment in the Republic of Ireland.
    Joe Patterson – Canada.

    August 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  20. RLTJ's

    Some promises have been reneged is what we are reading.

    It goes home to one word – discontentment. In politics take only an acts as a fact. An attack is an attack.

    There will always be a given justification for any of the acts so stop entertaining rhetoric.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  21. RLTJ's

    Maybe somebody is sabre rattling there. But she is right. Some things were just put to sleep. Might reawaken.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Reply
  22. Roland Eason

    Clearly a biased piece of reporting...

    August 11, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  23. Piet

    One night a man is walking down the street in Northern Ireland. Out of the darkness, he is approached by a another man with a gun. He is asked – Catholic or Protestant?
    He thinks – if I say Catholic, he surely will be a Protestant and kill me and if I say Protestant, he surely will be Catholic and kill me; so for the sake of peace, he says with gusto: "I am a Jew".
    The man with the gun looks at him and says: "I must be the luckiest Arab in all of Northern Ireland"

    August 11, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • kel

      If you walked into "the wrong bar" it wouldn't matter if you were anything but the same religion as the majority.. it 50/50.. either they will enjoy the novelty of a stranger or they will break your legs and send you off in an ambulance.... luckily most ;even in the harder of bars with be reasonable.. leave, you are in wrong place or why not.. join the craic but watch what you say!

      March 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  24. Oisin

    I'm a catholic from Northern Ireland and honestly there are no problems between 99% of Catholics and Protestants, we work together share schools together and play sports together, the media from outside the UK and Ireland make a fuss over nothing, it makes me sick that because of the way Northern Ireland is perceived by the media people from the US and parts of Europe are afraid of coming here when really nothing ever happens and there is no violence whatsoever.

    August 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      I am not afraid of going to Ireland and I do not know of anyone afraid of going to Ireland except you.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Reply
      • Oisin

        Yea I know my point was a little strong and I know the majority of people are not afraid of coming to northern Ireland, its just annoying when your own country gets a lot of bad publicity and very few positive things are said.

        August 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  25. Odum Bilhirami

    New, More Dangerous Hindu Extremist Groups Emerge in India

    Christians concerned as rightwing factions splinter to form militant outfits.
    PUNE, India, October 29 (CDN) — After more than a decade of severe persecution, India’s Christian minority is growing increasingly concerned over the mushrooming of newer and deadlier Hindu extremist groups.

    Gone are the days when Christians had to watch out only for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, which are closely linked with the most influential Hindu extremist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). With voter support faltering for the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), moderate and extremist sections within the Hindu nationalist movement are blaming each other, and militant splinter groups have emerged.

    Claiming to be breakaway factions of the RSS, new groups with even more extreme ideology are surfacing. The Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), the Rashtriya Jagran Manch (National Revival Forum), the Sri Ram Sene (Army of god Rama), the Hindu Dharam Sena (Army for Hindu Religion) and the Sanatan Sanstha (Eternal Organization) have launched numerous violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • gbic3548

      While both countries start with an 'I', the discussion is about Ireland, not India. Or Indiana, that matter.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  26. gbic3548

    If things are 'fine' in those 6 counties that make up Northern Ireland, then why the need for the British military to continue occupying them?

    August 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
    • kel

      The counties have been under british rule for years... the fighting is pure politics b*ll. Majority of peeps live peacefully regardless of religion now but the unemployed that don't know any better help those politicians to keep the fights going.
      I was born there, grew up there, with parents from both sides of the divide from Belfast.. I value and love all my extended family equally but I moved country for my kids.. I didn't want them influenced to take sides. It's the best decision I've ever made yet I still have many friends I talk to weekly and visit often... still wouldn't want my kids influenced by the lifestyle that my friends and family are living with.

      March 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  27. Shane

    I just wanted to say I had not read this blog yet and I really appreciate someone raising these issues for American readers.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  28. Joseph McCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007 ©™/Joe Collins/J. Foster Dulles/Marine5484

    I am a useless piece of camel dung. I post anti American, anti GB, anti semite, anti India, anti modern anything because I am a good moooooslem. I steal people's monikers because I am so ashamed of myself and post the most stupid comment. When people get angry with me, I claim insanity. I am the same guy.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • kel

      I guess you like to troll instead of recognizing and responding to real people that have thought about the article and understand the true facts?

      March 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
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