Memorandum submitted by Mr Gary Kent
Assuming that the paramilitary wars are over,
there's still some major unfinished business such as the issue
of paramilitary exiling. There are widely divergent estimates
of those who have been driven from their homes and from their
country during the Troubles.
Peter Mandelson recently quoted figures which
show that 335 people were exiled in 1998 and 256 in 1999, of whom
57 people left permanently in 1999. There were more Loyalist than
Republican expulsions in this period.
These figures only refer to those who come forward.
Many probably just up sticks. By a reasonable guesstimate, the
total number of exiles over the past generation could number 9,000
The most well-known are those who worked for
the State. One of these is Willie Carlin, a former MI5 and Army
agent within the Republican Movement. From 1974, he infiltrated
Sinn Fein in Derry and became Sinn Fein Treasurer in Derry as
well as close confidant of Martin McGuinness. He still sympathises
with the party.
Then Michael Bettaney, the errant MI5 officer
who was convicted of espionage, betrayed Carlin to Provo prisoners
in England. Carlin fled and now lives somewhere in England, presumably
fearing the long hand of IRA vengeance, like Eamon Collins who
was brutally bludgeoned to death and Marty McGartland, who miraculously
survived two IRA murder bids, one at the hands of the recently
deceased Terence "Cleaky" Clarke.
The exiles issue could become an easily understood
litmus test of paramilitary good faith. In the understated words
of the Victims' Commissioner, Ken Bloomfield: "It would be
a strange aspect of any society attempting reconciliation if convicted
prisoners were able to return home while unconvicted people felt
unsafe to do so".
This is Carlin's starting point too. "IRA
and UVF members who were jailed saw themselves as prisoners of
war and they are being released. If, say, the Republican Movement
had incarcerated people in the Bogside, they would now be released.
But people like me who worked for military intelligence and on
behalf of the British Government aren't yet seen in the same sort
But not all exiles are like Carlin. Some are
deemedby the dogs in the streetas responsible for
anti-social activities including joy-riding, burglary and sexual
No one pretends that all the exiles are angels,
although Carlin rightly says that "everyone is a different
Anywhere in these islands, there would be a
ready market for action against those joy-riders who, for instance,
have begun to buzz pedestrians in West Belfast.
But there are some basic principles about justice.
The suspect has rights to legal defence, appeal and proportionate
punishment. Yet, many people remain permanently exiled for crimes
of which they are, in principle, innocent, because they have not
been proven guilty by any due process.
But Carlin draws a sharp distinction between
people like himself who did a job in a war and the "hoods".
He feels that the UVF and the IRA could recognise that people
took different positions in war-conditions and that such organisations
can learn to forgive but the housewife on the Falls or the Shankill
will find this harder. He says that such people need reassurances
that the boozed-up, drug-taking thug who terrorised and burgled
their neighbours won't just go back to what he knows best if he
returns from exile.
And it must be clear that those who campaign
on exiles should assist the process of reforming the policing
and criminal justice systems to maximise their legitimacy.
Nonetheless, ending the war must mean wiping
the slate clean with the exiles. And exiling is inextricably linked
with "punishment" beatings as part and parcel of a strategy
of fear and tension to enforce paramilitary authority.
The decision of the Northern Ireland Affairs
Select Committee to investigate "relocation following paramilitary
intimidation" could flush out some authoritative figures
and testimonies and give a voice to the exiles.
For public opinion can affect paramilitary organisations.
In 1999, Amnesty International was invited to monitor "punishment"
beatings and the IRA stopped the beatings within days.
But pressure from within Northern Ireland is
the most important and potentially effective way of altering the
behaviour of paramilitary groups. The official Northern Ireland
Human Rights Commission should get off the fence on non-state
abuses of human rights and focus research on exiles, as could
We will know that the war is over when the exiles
can go home without fear of paramilitary retaliation.
30 June 2000