10 October 2002 Edition
Treat all death driver crime equally
I am in the group 'Families bereaved through car crime, Loved ones' lives less worthy'. I have watched their courageous campaign grow, walked along with them in estates terrorised by the car thieves and have supported their call for an end to joyriding. Since they came together as a group of families who had the car thieves/death drivers visit their horror on them, the community realised that it is the same minority who have repeatedly stolen cars and driven through our areas. They have been involved in murdering our parents and children, and when released on bail or after a short sentence, they go out and do it all over again, knowing full well the consequences of their actions.
How can a PSNI constable be killed by a well known death driver and he is charged with murder? How can another PSNI constable be hit by a car (Carlisle Circus North Belfast) and it is called attempted murder? How can the following people be killed by Death Drivers/Car Thieves and it is called an RTO "Road Traffic Offence"?
Kevin Fitzpatrick's wife and sons Dana and Kevin junior were murdered a week before Christmas leaving him to raise two other children. Maureen Brammald was six months pregnant when she was killed, leaving behind a young daughter. Patrick Hanna left a son. Joe McDonald left a widow and three children under the age of three. Dermott Gallagher left a son. Debbie McComb was only 15 when she was murdered. Kieran Conlon was killed by death drivers. Justin and Charmaine Watson were killed by a car thieves, leaving two young children, Connie and Tyler, orphaned. There are many other families who have had loved ones killed by repeat car thieves - thousands of people have been left without limbs, brain damaged and traumatised.
The death driver and those in the car who killed Constable Norman Thompson should get a life sentence, as should those who kill any parent or child through their death driving/joyriding. The DPP and the courts should not create a life less worthy.
My sympathy and support for the Families Bereaved through Car Crime is also extended to the Thompson Family. Death drivers are killing our community.
West Belfast resident
Misspelling the message
I have noted recently that the good work of Ográ Shinn Féin is being marred somewhat by a less than adequate relationship with a dictionary.
Recently, stickers mispelling 'Freedom' (they added in an extra 'e') went up in parts of Dublin. And the Ográ campaign posters for Nice also have an error in the slogan.
While good spelling is not normally perceived as necessary for revolutionaries, or revltionaries as Ográ might put it, perhaps they could try better in future?
Questions about Nice
The Referendum Commission has set up a hotline inviting questions from the public on the forthcoming Nice Treaty.
The questions that are most frequently asked will be answered by the Commission in the media.
We are encouraging people to ring the hotline and ask the following five questions:
Can enlargement of the EU occur through a mechanism other than Nice?
In the event of enlargement to 27 members, do we lose our automatic right to veto?
Is the Seville declaration legally binding?
What is the impact of Article 133 on liberalisation/privatisation of public services within the EU?
What are the 30 key areas where we will lose our right to veto?
The number of the hotline is: 1890 600 100.
Please encourage your colleagues to call as well; if enough people pose these questions, then the Commission will be forced to answer them.
Padded cell policy concern
In April, the Celtic League wrote to the Irish Justice Minister expressing concern about the policy of securing prisoners within the Irish prison system, who have problems of mental illness, within padded cells.
Our concerns were raised by a report earlier this year by Mr Brian Harvey, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. Mr Harvey's report records that some of those detained in such padded cells were held for up to 18 days in solitary confinement. Conditions such as this, in which the detained person is subjected to extreme sensory deprivation, exceeds even the longest periods of training endured by astronauts in endurance training.
We are aware that domestic rights organisations in Ireland have also expressed concern about this practice and the facilities in general for prisoners suffering from mental illness.
The Irish government is well aware that the practice contravenes a number of international agreements covering human rights and the treatment of detained persons. The European Model Prison Rules which are used as a standard guidance by the Council of Europe's Prisons Investigatory body the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) are clear on the issue.
Section 100.2 sets out that:
"Specialised institutions or sections under medical management should be available for the observation and treatment of prisoners suffering gravely from mental illness or abnormality."
Section 100.3 says that:
"The medical or psychiatric service of the penal institutions shall provide for the psychiatric treatment of all prisoners who are in need of such treatment."
The League considered the issue of penal policy generally in all the Celtic countries when it held its Annual Meeting in August. The specific problems in relation to the treatment of mentally ill prisoners in the Irish prison service were reported on by the Secretary General.
We have now raised the issue once again with the Justice Minister.
Say no to Private Finance Initiatives
The decision by the British Labour Party's trade unionists to oppose further imposition of Bomber Blair's Private Finance Initiative schemes (PFI) should be welcomed by all trade unionists and socialists in Ireland. PFI, which allows big business to extract obscene profits from its (mis)running of public services, is synonymous in Britain with the cutting of corners, the reduction of services, and the sacking of workers.
The Stormont Executive, which unfortunately has approved such schemes, should take heed of this decision and agree to no more. The two republican ministers in particular, who head the departments most affected by PFI, have to distance themselves from these schemes and prevent their further implementation. It is far better to be leading a campaign for increased public sector funding, and involving the trade unions in this, than it is to be accepting Blairite/Thatcherite dogma.
All of this has an effect in the 26 Counties. The prospect of PFI get-rich-quick schemes coming here is one that has Fianna Fáil-the Corrupt Party and their fat cat paymasters drooling. By taking a stand against such schemes in the North, republicans could give a lead to the trade unionists and consumers who will eventually be affected by them here in the South.