« Stephen Tall: Do you want to be in power? The new politics demands a Tory alliance with UKIP or the Lib Dems | Main | Garvan Walshe: National interest requires more than a symbolic Syria strike »

Henry Hill Red, White and Blue

Henry Hill: Separatists warn against ‘flag raising exercise’ as Armed Forces Day returns to Scotland

Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

Separatists warn against ‘flag raising exercise’ as Armed Forces Day returns to Scotland

Independence campaigners outside the SNP – including independent nationalist MSPs and the Scottish Greens – have voiced concerns at the decision by the Ministry of Defence to host 2014’s Armed Forces Day national event in Stirling, a mere three years after Edinburgh held it in 2011.

Given the potentially sensitive timing – soon after the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and close to the referendum – they are wary of an event which will put an emphatically British institution, and likely the British flag, in the Scottish media spotlight.

It isn’t hard to see why: many separatists are hoping to get a boost from building the Bannockburn celebrations into the nationalist narrative. A military event could skew that completely by offering unionists the chance to emphasise that, whilst seven hundred years ago English and Scots young men were fighting each other, they’ve spent the last three hundred fighting side by side in the British armed forces.

Unionists and the SNP administration, on the other hand, welcomed the news.

McConville family suing Ministry of Defence and the PSNI

The family of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was “disappeared” and murdered by the IRA more than four decades ago on suspicion of being a government informant, are suing the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI, the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The family claim that the RUC investigation into the abduction was inadequate, and that the PSNI have subsequently “failed to assist the family’s quest for the truth”. The PSNI replaced the RUC in 2001, as part of the peace process.

The case comes ten years after her remains were finally discovered in 2003, buried on a beach in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland.

Gwent PPC attacks MPs over scrutiny role

Ian Johnston, the independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Gwent, criticised MPs for allegedly treating him unfairly at a parliamentary enquiry into his sacking of his chief constable, Carmel Napier. Johnston claims that MPs had decided to make him the “villain of the piece” before the committee met.

Mrs Napier resigned after being given an ultimatum by Johnston, who took issue with her management style. The dismissal highlights the powers wielded by PCCs – often on very small electoral mandates due to disappointing turnout. Member of the Home Affairs Select Committee were quick to point out that Johnston received only 8 per cent of the vote, and accused him of having “a disdainful attitude to scrutiny by Parliament” as well as “a clear over-sensitivity to criticism”.

Mr Johnston maintains that he obeyed the letter of established procedures, and that PCCs are not accountable to parliament.

Unionist disgust at compensation for family of Real IRA member

Tom Elliot of the UUP and Jim Allister of the TUV are two prominent unionist politicians to express shock at the news that the family of Kieran Doherty, a RIRA member stripped and assassinated by that same organisation three years ago, are to receive “substantial compensation.”

Elliot claimed that the members of some murdered members of the security forces receive a “pittance” in comparison, and that “it really does sicken me to hear the difference. Michael Gallagher, whose son was one of 29 killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing, carried out by the RIRA and called by the BBC “Northern Ireland’s single worst terrorist atrocity”, revealed that the families of children under 18 killed there received only £7,500 each.

Yes Scotland email hacking: ‘Yes’ paid academic for favourable article

Last week, I wrote about the police being called in after an alleged hack of the Yes Scotland email system. What had tipped the separatists off was receiving media enquiries that were, apparently, based on information that could only have come from a private email account.

Those enquiries have since proved to be about the Yes campaign paying an academic to write a comment piece for the Herald newspaper about a post-Union constitution. Controversy has been sparked by the fact that this payment was not disclosed to the newspaper, which published the article under the author’s own byline and mentioned their work at the supposedly-neutral Scottish Constitutional Commission.

Although Bulmer, a PhD student, was writing in a personal capacity, his article thus carried the implied weight of the SCC whilst making no mention that it had been commissioned with political funds. Unionists have called for the resignation of the Yes campaign director and suggested that other pro-separatist articles may also have been paid for by the campaign.

Yes Scotland insist that they have been perfectly open about the payment – a notion disputed by journalists who claim they were told they couldn’t mention it due to the ongoing investigation – and that the fuss being kicked up was an attempt to distract attention from the “assault on democracy” that was their own cyber-attack.

Treasure hunter uncovers Belfast weapons cache

In what police are describing as the largest find in years, a metal detector user has unearthed 16 semi-automatic handguns and over 800 rounds of ammunition at Labreeny Walk, Belfast.

The guns were not buried deep, and suspicion has fallen on loyalist paramilitaries involved in the recent flag protests over Belfast City Hall.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.