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ANY QUESTIONS
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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions? 13 March 2009

CHAIRMAN: JONATHAN DIMBLEBY

PANELLISTS:


EAMONN McCANN:
Political Commentator and Author


PROF MONICA McWILLIAMS:
Chief Commissioner, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

LORD PAUL BEW:

Crossbench Peer, and Professor of Politics at Queen’s University, Belfast

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT:

Editor-in-Chief of the Economist

From: The Playhouse
5 - 7 Artillery Street
Londonderry,
Northern Ireland
BT48 6RG.

DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to Northern Ireland and to Londonderry or alternatively, it is your choice, Derry. The famous walled city has an important and fascinating cultural history which long pre-dates what are known as the troubles and a recent past which demonstrates that for many people the peace process really has produced a peace dividend. Diverse, cosmopolitan and growing rapidly it is the largest number of US investors it has in Northern Ireland. It also boasts the Playhouse which welcomes upwards of 100,000 people a year devoted to making arts accessible to all it became the first theatre in Northern Ireland to win Stage magazine’s Outstanding Achievement in Regional Theatre Award. It is also the beneficiary of the BBC television programme Restoration and this is the first event in the newly refurbished but not quite completed auditorium. On stage here Monica McWilliams is Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Ulster but perhaps better known as the leader of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition and now latterly as Chief Commissioner for Human Rights in Northern Ireland. Paul Bew is Professor of Irish Politics at Queen’s University Belfast and he was historical adviser to the Bloody Sunday tribunal. His most recent book is the Making and Remaking of theGood Friday Agreement which was published in 2007 the same year in which he was appointed to the House of Lords where he sits as a cross bencher. Eamonn McCann was brought up in this city where he still lives. He was a founder of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and he is also the author notably of Bloody Sunday in Derry WhatReally Happened and a prolific journalist with a regular column in the Belfast Telegraph. John Mickelthwait has covered international affairs for the Economist for over 20 years, Editor of the US section for 7 years he was appointed Editor in Chief although he preferred to be called Editor of the entire magazine in 2006. Why do you like to be just Editor and not Editor-in-Chief?

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I think Editor-in-Chief sounds all too grand in some ways

DIMBLEBY:
Very well. He is the 4th member of our panel.

(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please.

EAMON McAULEY
Does the panel believe that the threat from dissident Republicans should be met with a gloves off security response?

DIMBLEBY:
Should the threat from dissident Republicans be met with a gloves off security response?
Monica McWilliams

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Absolutely not. As the Chief Commissioner for Human Rights I would first say that we have had experience of what happened in Northern Ireland in the past when that happened and it didn’t win the support of the local community. I think we are in new times now. Obviously everyone wants those who have committed these terrible atrocities to be brought to justice but for the rule of law to be used in doing so and I think that is a very basic human right. It would be terrible if were to move away and back from that. Whatever we have seen recently it has been the support of the community and I think that when the PS&I put human rights at the core of going forward the rest of the community have done so too. So the most likely way of those individuals being brought to justice is to use the rule of law not to break it.

DIMBLEBY:
Paul Bew

PAUL BEW
Let me say first of all that I don’t think there is any realistic chance of a gloves off security response. The brief system in Northern Ireland has internalized completely the idea that over reaction is the most fatal thing you can do in any given situation and I think it is very likely as Monica has said the approach will be to observe the rule of law.


DIMBLEBY
What constitutes over reaction? Is there the possibility of over reaction within the rule of law? Which is what I think Monica was…

PAUL BEW
Well there clearly is and things can go wrong in operations but if you are talking about the leadership that is likely to be coming from senior policemen, senior officials directing the situation and the aftermath of these tragic murders I am absolutely certain that the direction will be one which suggests that in the past we have got things wrong in Northern Ireland by over reaction and we have to be careful in what we do and that this is the best way forward. There is a difficulty here because there is a fundamental problem. Monica has already referred to justice. There is a fundamental justice here and it is also important not simply not to overact but to provide justice and there is tension between those two objectives. There is no doubt about that at all but I don’t think there is any likelihood that the system will make that error

DIMBLEBY
Are you saying just to clarify that that in the search for justice you could end up creating a greater problem that the resolution of the particular need for justice would involve.

PAUL BEW
I think that that is actually the view of some people. Even those people operating the policy. My own view is that unless the justice is also achieved then you are also in a serious situation. In other words the problems here are not just that the state sometimes over reacts and creates problems itself and things that might do by any ??? of one sort or another. The problem is also if there is a visible failure to achieve justice for those families who have suffered in this way then there is also a destabilizing effect within the community that comes from that and therefore what I am really saying is in all the wise thought this week about lets avoid over reaction which I completely agree with we also have to keep in our minds the need to actually achieve justice.

DIMBLEBY
Eamonn McCann

EAMONN McCANN
Well I agree with Paul it is simply not going to happen at least not in the way things look at the moment in the short to medium term there isn’t going to be a taking off of the gloves. We also want to be clear about what people mean, when they call for take the gloves off and go after them. We have had public calls from quite influential commentators in Ireland, North and South, and from a small number of politicians. I mean if you are being specific they want internment without trial, they want shoot to kill and simply send in Special Forces and take these people out. Now we have gone through this you know in Northern Ireland, we went through this in the early 70’s as Monica has alluded to and we know that it doesn’t work and there is another reason, a specific reason why it is not going to happen and that is if it did happen the response in the nationalist community in particular with all the historical memories that that brings up. I mean it would be so strong that it would be entirely counter productive and would pitch people behind the people who would be the elements who were being subjected to this harsh treatment. You know and there are other aspects of this that we are going to have to keep in mind I mean we are not dealing here despite the propaganda which has been understandably perhaps pitched against those few who were involved in the shootings last Saturday and last Monday. I meant these are people with an ideology which goes deep into Irish history and anyone who looks at the history of Ireland and Irish Republicanism in particular would advise anyone in charge of security don’t even think about going down that road.

DIMBLEBY
We might touch on one or two of these things in questions to come. John Mickelthwait

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I think there is no case really for a gloves off policy. I think there is a case for more gloves to the extent of having a larger police force or a larger one which is accountable to local authorities to deal with it. I think in terms of more British troops I think that would be disaster, the idea of policemen having to go into an area with a Battalion of Coldstream Guards behind him I think is exactly the reason the British got into the trouble they did but I think the idea of a larger police force accountable to people here I think that is perhaps a realistic and decent way to deal with it because there has obviously has been some kind of security problem to the extent that this managed to happen

DIMBLEBY
Can we go back to our questioner Eamonn McCauley?

EAMON McAULEY
Yes (cough) sorry I would just like the panel for the younger generation coming through I mean I know you are saying about the past for the younger generation, history is going to be very easy to rewrite and I mean personally myself I am getting limited memories of any sort of security preference on the streets. I was 9 whenever the first ceasefire happened and so for young people even something as simple as checkpoints would be very new and foreign

DIMBLEBY
Would this be something that would disturb you or alarm you as a response to this?

EAMONN McCAULEY
Yes because even something like checkpoints if you were to take that further and to have stopping people on the streets to search them again I think that could aggravate and impinge on people’s feelings and that is what we don’t want to do because that is going to play straight into the hands of dissidents so I think we have to be very mindful of that.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you we will go to our next question please.


JOSHUA LEVINE
Is the panel surprised by Martin McGuiness’s description of the men who shot and killed the Police Officer as traitors?

DIMBLEBY
Eamonn McCann?

EAMONN McCANN
Well not entirely surprised. I think I was a bit surprised at the use of that particular word but the ferocity of his response I wasn’t surprised about and I am not entirely surprised indeed not at all surprised that Martin McGuiness and other Sinn Fein leaders have explicitly now without any equivocation endorsed the PSNI and appealed to their followers to give them permission and so forth. I mean that is the sort of final act really, the final move towards full acceptance of the legitimacy of the northern shape of the United Kingdom and that day has been inevitable since the Good Friday Agreement because that was implicit in the Good Friday Agreement. It is now explicit for everybody to see. I think the use of the word traitors by Martin McGuiness was perhaps ill advised. I mean time will tell but I do know that there were considerable number of people who have got not time for the real IRA or the continuity IRA. They are absolutely are opposed to any resumption of the Republican Arm’s struggle but who balkrf at that statement by Martin McGuiness and said steady on they are only doing, we are against what they are doing but they are doing what the organisation what you Martin were associated with did not so long ago and which other people…

DIMBLEBY
Sorry you are mentioning a name because you come from this city you said Martin who were you referring to?

EAMONN McCANN
Oh I am referring to Martin McGuiness sorry

DIMBLEBY
I thought you were referring to the questioner who was nodding away sagely as you said Martin.. Got it. Paul Bew

PAUL BEW
Well the first think I would like to say is that I do understand why Martin McGuiness used that language and I think there is a - to use a Sinn Fein word there was a logic to the use of the language part of a logic Eamonn has identified but the crucial thing…….

DIMBLEBY
That was the word interestingly that Gerry Adams used in relation to the logic of being highly critical and condemning the killings of the soldiers.



PAUL BEW
That is why I am using that word but the logic is this, that since the Good Friday Agreement there was an all Ireland vote which underwrote the institutions of the current compromise that we have in Northern Ireland and this changed the situation that existed before that. Part of the ideology of the Provisional Republican Movement before 1998, during the core of the troubles, was that in 1998 the Irish people had been asked their opinion on what they wanted and in their view this is the view disputed by others, but in their view, in 1918 the Irish people voted for Independent Irish Republic and therefore or subsequently they were denied that by the use of force by the British state. Therefore that validated that campaign, their campaign, the campaign of the political IRA is among other things was validated by the idea that there had been a democratic denial of the will of the Irish people by force, by the British state hence they roll out to use force. Now once you have the all Ireland vote which was John Hume’s idea, worth saying as we are in John Hume’s city then people who take up weapons against that all Ireland vote can only be traitors to the Ireland of Ireland and there is therefore a very clear logic in what Martin McGuiness is actually saying and while of course he can be embarrassed by people saying “this is the kind of thing that not so long ago the IRA that you were part of did” nonetheless there is clarity in his actual position

DIMBLEBY
If Eamonn McCann is right and he knows where of he speaks that there were a lot of people unhappy with that phrase does that mean that despite the logic that Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leadership are at this moment to a degree quite exposed by those who are uneasy about this and who might be tempted to say well maybe there is something in what the real or continuity IRA is saying. Is that a risk?

PAUL BEW
There are real dangers here and that is why although many people were annoyed when Mr Adams said I should be the judge of how to address my own community in a way you know he has the right to ask for that and when he says as reports say today that these things should be denied the breathing space or the air to breathe I think was the phrase that is very interesting because I presume that he has thought about the terms in which he wants to address his own community and he means that very very strong phrase. And to be honest in many ways it is as strong emotionally as the phrase of Martin McGuiness’s but I do think that it is very important to understand that Martin McGuiness has arranged something very important. There was an all Ireland vote which underpinned the settlement and the compromise that we now have and therefore we are in a new place and John Hume used to say anybody who takes up weapons and arms against that settlement can no longer be claiming to be acting out some Irish historic mission relating to some previous denial of Irish rights they are acting as Fascists he used to say against the will of the Irish people.

DIMBLEBY
John Mickelthwait from outside you heard this were you surprised?


JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I was a bit but actually then I thought about it a bit further and it strikes me that actually the language of this conflict is amazingly important and that particularly becomes from when you look at it from outside. I think that whenever you deal with conflicts which go this deep it does inevitably involve some degree of people having to change the way in which they speak. We saw that with Paisley when he came in with McGuiness and I think this is to some extent McGuiness’s equivalent of that and what strikes me particularly looking at it from outside is that you look all the way round the world and you see these intractable conflicts, many of them with religion at the core of what they are about and when you go to these other conflicts when you go to the West Bank and when you go to other places where people have been at each others throats for a long time and then you have to try and imagine the hoops which those people will have to jump through, the same kind of hoops that McGuiness is jumping it will have to be exactly the same ones as the Palestinians or for that matter the Israelis would have to jump through and it involves often having to say things which sound slightly ridiculous but are all part of the re positioning so from that point of view initially I was surprised but when I began to think about it I actually welcomed it from that point of view.

DIMBLEBY
Monica McWilliams?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
I would agree with John that language is enormously important. I go back to the times when we were negotiating and during the peace talks and we all spoke English but we did need translators in the room because it should have been from English to plain English. And sometimes it was the next day that we would read it in the newspaper and say oh so that is what they meant when you were actually in a really important place negotiating peace. So, the first message I would say about that is that it was plain English it didn’t need translation and it was a message to be heard very loudly by those who hadn’t heard that message before on the other side. Second thing I would say about it is it is a very brave sign of leadership when you are sending a message to your own side particularly when you are still trying to resolve conflict. I remember saying just after the Good Friday Agreement was signed these are going to be dangerous times ahead of us I hope all of you are still live to see us through all of it and when a leader sends a very strong message to his own side that leader sometimes puts their own life in risk.

DIMBLEBY
Given the evidence appears to be the overwhelming majority of both communities want the political process, the peace process to continue and only a small minority don’t and that includes the overwhelming majority of people in Sinn Fein how exposed, you touched on this, I could ask Eamonn perhaps how exposed do you believe Martin McGuiness and the other leaders, Gerry Adams, to be to the possibility of people saying we don’t like this we want to go back the other way because it doesn’t take an awful lot of people does it to cause a real threat.



EAMONN McCANN
It takes very few people really to create a threat. Well there are two ways of looking at that. In the immediate term I don’t think they are terribly exposed at all, if you mean is it possible for the real IRA or the continuity IRA to gain a mass or at least a substantial following but that is not going to happen. In the longer term there has been surrounding circumstances here that we ought to mention briefly. What are the circumstances in which the republican paramilitaries could get some support for resumption of the arms struggle at the minute and you have to look at the economic circumstances there too? We are in a situation where we are headed into severe economic turbulence to put it mildly when it is very likely that there are going to be further and deeper cuts in their public spending. Already you will find around this city and around other places that the most deprived and alienated communities are now doing worse than they were a couple of years ago, there is a lot of anger about that. If that anger isn’t given a channel some other channel to go through it is very likely to be sucked into and be siphoned into.

DIMBLEBY
Young people are sucked in

EAMONN McCANN
Exactly and that is not an ideological danger for Martin McGuiness and people but it certainly it seems to me the most likely circumstances in which that can happen and if I can just make this point. One of my fundamental objections not just to recent events but to republican Para militarism generally is that it actually tends to prevent a coherent response sort of a grass roots left wing in those situations because it polarizes everything into one community or another and invites a security response rather than allowing the development of radical politics.

DIMBLEBY
You don’t know what the questions are but actually you have touched on something that may be part of someone’s answer or your answer to the next question. I want to go back first of all just briefly on this to Joshua Levine. Were you surprised?

JOSHUA LEVINE
Well I thought it was just quite notable in tone between Gerry Adams’s comments after the shooting of the soldiers and McGuiness the next day and it does show how important words are and the choice of words because in 24 hours the tone had entirely changed and it had me wondering exactly whether they had gained in confidence and they felt they could say more the next day or whether terrible as it sounds there is a difference between the shooting of a soldier and the shooting of a police officer.

DIMBLEBY
Monica McWilliams just on that I mean historically there is presumably a difference because for some republicans this is an occupying, remains and occupying army did as it were what Gerry Adams say liberate Martin McGuiness to speak more freely or are they talking about slightly things in Sinn Fein perception?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
I actually don’t know what the discussion as you can imagine was going on between Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness at that point but what I do know is that clearly Sinn Fein do write their scripts, they do stay on message, one doesn’t say something that the other has to contradict at a later stage. It may have been that Gerry Adams broke the initial ground saying what he could say at the particular moment and the message that he was saying at that moment was let politics do the work despite the fact that he said he was opposed to the British Army being in Northern Ireland he had found that a military solution was not the way to go, a political solution was the way to go, out comes Martin McGuiness a day later saying something even stronger and as I said the message there that was to be heard by his own side in this instance was a very strong one and I think it was this week indeed that there were bombs planted outside Sinn Fein’s offices that could have gone off and killed anyone of their members. So that is a pretty strong message as well at this particular time so they do need to stay on script and I think we all did in the end hear what they wanted us to hear.

DIMBLEBY
John

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
Can I just say what would be the reaction from what you have described and I ask it to Eamonn as well that if there is a loyalist reaction in a big way

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Well again it was good to see the leadership on this particular week from Jackie McDonald who was a leader in South Belfast I think he said he was pleased to see these messages coming out so strongly because it would give no succor to anybody and he used these words I think “that consider themselves these days to be the real UDA to suddenly get up and react” and I know there was loads of work going on behind the scenes because that is again the work of leadership to make sure that that didn’t happen.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you we must move swiftly on to our next.


ANNE MURRAY
In light of this week’s tragic return to violence what practical initiatives or programmes does the panel think would be useful to promote reconciliation?

DIMBLEBY
Eamonn McCann has had a half bit at that I will start with Lord Bew

PAUL BEW
Well first it is the case of course that there are many elements at work already in our society to bring about reconciliation and many other important aspects of progress being attempted to expand integrated schooling and so on. All those things are very important, people working at the grass roots in which ways which never happened before. I would say however the most important thing at this point in time to come back to this point is to ensure that there is a mood created in which Monica is right about this that Loyalist retaliation doesn’t occur because let me stress one thing about his society which amazes me because in the early days when arguing for the Good Friday agreement it wasn’t a particularly popular argument in other community. At this point we have 108 Assembly members who are all elected by the people of Northern Ireland who have no fundamental problem with our political institutions and have no fundamental problem with working together. It means for example that our political institutions are much stronger than the old Stormont was which was essentially based on just one community so the crucial thing here I think is the maintenance of the stability of those institutions because I am going to say something slightly unpopular but it is my belief that while the grass roots work is very important towards reconciliation that the way things work in northern Ireland is top down, it is elite driven, it was key people in the republican movement who decided to bring about the end of the war and it was top down, key people in the unionist political community who made that decision as well and it has actually been a top down process and therefore the fundamental thing here is the maintenance of political stability.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you. Eamonn McCann, leaving aside perhaps the economic need to do something you have used the term in the past rather tellingly from outsider’s perspective who may feel well there was the Good Friday agreement and now they are working together etc an it is all hunky dory perhaps you could expand on it a bit, benign apartheid if it fits into this attempt to promote reconciliation

EAMONN McCANN
Yes you see Paul is right here. I agree with him that things are OK at the top you know and there has been widespread comment and internationally, globally perhaps on what McGuiness and Peter Robinson appearing with the Chief constable and so forth, isn’t that wonderful, there it is all symbolized, Northern Ireland has come together. Actually that is a false perspective. It is a rather euphoric and rather unrealistic way to look at the situation. While that is happening at the top I mean as Paul would agree with me on this at the bottom of society I think people have been arguably been drifting apart. We have never been more divided in geographic terms than we are now. 95% of people who work in Catholic areas are Catholics and 95% of people who work in Protestant areas are Protestant. There are lots of people, young people who grew up we know them around this city, they are our neighbours and friends and the children were friends, they actively don’t know a single person of the other community. Now as long as that is the situation and it seems to me that there is always material abrasion of the interface between the two communities, an abrasion which can spark could potentially spark a new conflagration. That has to be addressed and it seems to me the way to address it, there are also people at the bottom also coming together but in a different way, and with quite a different perspective. I mean I have been involved through the Trade Union movement over the last 10 years and the number of globalizations where I would see equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants in quite large numbers sort of active on the streets, against the introduction of water charges for example over the last few years and we are going to come back to that this year I am convinced so you know those issues and a whole series of them which it is not possible to deal with them by mobilizing in one community only. You have to mobilize people on a basis which has got nothing to do with the community that they come from and therefore it seems to be I know you said to me not to go back into the economic stuff but it is in that context that I actually can see this matter being resolves. I am an old fashioned socialist in my approach to these things but I think that old fashioned socialism has a great future in this part of the world. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
John Mikhelthwait

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I am not so keen on the old fashioned socialism but despite that I think there is a kind of slightly economic analogy to the extent that I think they have had this long period, a decade to build up credit. there is this infrastructure now of peace which involves politicians coming together, it involves people of faith, it involves the British government learning how to do it, it involves Trade Unions it involves a lot of other organisations and something has been built up there and now it has to withstand the storm and people like me looking at it slightly more from the outside. We don’t know how strong it is, whether perhaps more could have been done during that period to build that up. What does strike me is actually going back to the very first questioner is that the people who will decide it is the young, it is the people who will suddenly look at it and think this is appalling the idea of roadblocks, this is ghastly, the idea of things being as separated as they once were and it is that feeling of abnormality I think which again going through the other conflict zones it is the terrifying normality of conflict in places again Northern Nigeria for instance you go there the total divide between the two different religions and yet people regard that as normal and bound to continue and they look to place like this and they think this is the hope.

DIMBLEBY
You mentioned young people, a number of our questioners Monica, we haven’t actually got that in our list at the moment but a number of our questioners asked about education pointing out that integrated education effects about 2 or 3 % only of young people who grow up in entirely a different way and as Eamonn said in a slightly different context and don’t know each other.

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Absolutely I think it is very important. I remember once Naomi Hassan who was the Deputy Speaker, Leader who came often to Northern Ireland to talk about the Middle East situation and she made a couple of comments. She said that every time they were going down we were going up. At the moment it seems we are going slightly up compared with where they are at but she said look you can’t let your system be dominated by failure and fear and you need to replace it with curiosity and creativity and what I see amongst our young people is a great deal of curiosity and creativity. Integrated education is one solution, it is not the only solution that has been said often but education in itself has to be a solution. I am very heartened Jonathan when I go round the schools and see the amount of work that is now being down around good citizenship around the issues that we wouldn’t have talked about, here. We might have talked about what was going on in other people’s countries but we find it difficult to talk about our own and I think that now those children are learning the language of human rights to be able to talk about what went wrong here so it can never happen again and if that is the generation that has been educated unlike our generation that is the kind of education I would look forward to.

DIMBLEBY
We are going to move on from Northern Ireland. I get the impression from the 3 of you who live here and work here from your different perspectives that you are not withstanding the horrible, terrible events of this week you are cautiously, cautiously optimistic that Northern Ireland will be resilient enough to move forward. Just very briefly in yes or no terms is that true for you Eamonn

EAMONN McCANN
Yes I think that is the likelihood. It is not certain of course
Monica?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Yes said in my heart and optimistic in my head

DIMBLEBY
Paul

PAUL BEW
Cautiously yes, yes.

DIMBLEBY
OK with that cautiously emphasized I will remind you of the Any Answers number after the Saturday broadcast of this programme it is 03700 100 444. The email address is any.answers@bbc.co.uk. We will go to our next please.



OISIN DUDDY
Is it moral for a government to claim innocence with regard to allegations of torture if the actual acts of torture are conducted by a third party?

DIMBLEBY
This relates obviously I presume of Binyam Mohammed who claims that MI5 and the British Government colluded in his sustained torture. John

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I don’t think it is wrong for a government to claim innocence at all. The question is whether they, what the evidence says. I think on the basic question of torture I come from a zero tolerance school. I don’t think it is obviously morally right. I don’t think it works I think there is evidence throughout history of how it produces the wrong results and it certainly doesn’t work in terms of winning over hearts and minds so for all those reasons it is a disaster. The absolute question on this one I think we just need much more evidence. the initial denial from the government I think one needs to look at with a lawyers mind trying to work out what exactly they meant so I think from that point of view the sooner they have a proper and full enquiry into it the better.

DIMBLEBY
The Foreign Secretary has said that he will not permit the court to have access to information which he thinks will damage relations between the security services of the United Stages and the United Kingdom. You have long experience of America. A lot of American Editors and others who work there are saying that is absolute nonsense because America depends in part on British intelligence and it wouldn’t be possible in America to deny the court the information were it to be sought

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
Things like the freedom of information laws in America are so much stronger and so much more helpful in that respect so for all those reasons I think we should urge them to do it. I think Miliband is wrong about that but it has to be said that Governments like everybody else deserve if they plead innocence, let’s hear it and see what it is like.

DIMBLEBY
When you heard the evidence or when you listened to Binyam Mohammed describing in quite considerable detail what did your journalistic antennae tell you about what he said and the way in which he said it?

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
My journalistic antennae told me that what he was describing happened to him sounded absolutely authentic. The bit where I, the bit where this question goes to is to what extent was that driven by the British Government and that is the bit which is more difficult.

DIMBLEBY
Paul Bew?

PAUL BEW
Well I agree with everything that John has said about this thus far. I do think Parliament is taking this issue increasingly seriously. I think initially it didn’t take it as serious as it deserved to be taken but looking at the balance of questioning as the week went on Ministers came under more and more pressure and it is quite clear that some very serious people with a very good human rights record in Parliament are very very concerned about this case and I agree also with John the position he enunciated on on torture and tolerance is surely the right position. There is a question about how complicit or otherwise the British Government is in this and it is not entirely clear and I would just say one thing which has to be taken into mind in terms of the current media stories about this and I pray there is not for example another bomb related or otherwise in London and if Londoners die or other people in the United Kingdom die the same newspapers will be saying why did the American intelligence not help us more? We are in fact very very dependent on the Americans for security in crucial respects and the very same newspapers who are now quite rightly raising fundamental issues for the United Kingdom as society raised about this case because there is a sense in which our ears do prick up and many of us think that Binyam Mohammed is telling us the truth about what happened to him but at the same time do remember that, that there is another side to the relationship with the United States and it is a very important one to have in mind and there is an issue here and the same newspapers will be saying next week or the week after something terrible happens why wasn’t American intelligence doing more so the sensitivity of the government on this which many people find very irritating does have its roots in a real problem.

DIMBLEBY
Eamonn McCann

EAMONN McCANN
I don’t think there is a real problem there at all and the reason why I say there is no real problem is if you look at it closely we have had the case recently of the government telling the High Court despite the judge saying that he wanted the papers of the case and they would be very important for him to understand all the facts and they said well you can’t have them because the Americans have written to us and they have said if you hand these papers over to the court and if they get out it will effect our security and that will damage relations, security relations between the United States and Britain. It then turned out that in fact what happened the British side had asked the Americans to send the letter saying we the Americans don’t want you to do this and you have to ask the question the obvious question which jumps out is for what reason would the British Government go through this elaborate exercise and concealment and obfuscation and confusion unless they had something to hide and then you listen to Binyam Mohammed telling and I agree with everybody it has got the absolute ring of truth about it what he is saying and he has got the wounds to back up what he says then you get an idea of what it is that they are covering up and one of the reasons I belief, I believe that the British government was complicit all the evidence points to that they were complicit in torture including the torture of British residents that had backed Pakistan and Morocco and elsewhere. I think it is unlikely. We know about the case of Binyam Mohammed because he has been released and there is a lot of publicity focused on him I doubt very much if he is the only one it is difficult to believe that the one who comes to light is the only one that there was and what is more it strengthens that view when I look back at our own country and the part in our own little patch of the world to the early 1970’s and people were water boarded here in Northern Ireland. There was a remarkable lack of attention paid to that. Anybody out there who wants to check it take the name Liam Holden and Google that and read his statement to the criminal cases review body which is presently considering whether his conviction for murder was safe. He was water boarded you know this torture has been going on for a long time. Nobody has ever said sorry to Liam Holden. They are at it again.

DIMBLEBY
(Applause)
Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights commission what is your take on this?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Well it is good to hear today that actually David Cameron is also calling for an enquiry into this. It is important that this gets all party support there should never be any equivocation in terms of a response to a suggestion and now maybe a finding that an article 3 right which is the right not to be tortured has been violated. That is the one right that is absolute. You can’t stand idly by, you can’t collude, you can’t say that you watched it; you will be done for it. And that must be a very very clear message that goes out when I first came in as Chief Commissioner I wrote to the Minister of Justice as was then asking if any extraordinary rendition was taking place. Here in Northern Ireland which I covered in terms of this jurisdiction but I also asked was it happening anywhere else in the UK which other parts of GB are outside my jurisdiction the answer came back saying no as it turned out that wasn’t the case and apologies had to be made to Parliament at a later stage. So I have to say I would be very concerned if there was any delay now in moving towards having this enquiry.

DIMBLEBY
Does this mean that you don’t accept as stated what the Home Office says in pretty powerful language I quote some of it “the security and intelligences do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment. Do you simply say that cannot be taken at face value?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Absolutely I would expect them to say that. Of course we live in a democracy they should say that. Whether they do it or not and oversee what is happening is a different question altogether. That is why we have Human Rights Commissions. That is why we are allowed to access places of detention to make sure it doesn’t happen





DIMBLEBY
If, if you believe that they have to say that and if you have senior ministers, Government ministers saying unequivocally this does not happen, it has not happened, it did not happen and it would not happen that they are unaware or are they being dishonest, telling lies. If you are right in your suspicion that this does happen regardless.

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Well that is why you have oversight because it could be that they are unaware. That is why you do have an enquiry then to discover who had the information when and where.

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I think the interesting issue is solicit because it is entirely possible that they could be telling the truth that they didn’t solicit torture but the torture went on done by third parties who perhaps could have thought a great deal about it and decided whether that was, because it passed through other people to the people who did the torturing so it is not, the actual use of the phrases they used is the type of thing which the lawyers will pick away at.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you we will go to our next.


LORRAINE KIRK
Prince Charles’ speech in Brazil warned that we had only 100 months left to start to reverse man’s destruction of the environment. Do panel members agree and if so what do they suggest be done.

DIMBLEBY
Do you agree with the Prince of Wales’s dark foreboding on this Paul Bew?

PAUL BEW
Not entirely look there is a very serious problem. I just always react against people saying we have 100 months to achieve this. It goes back to my youth in movements like CND where I was always being told that unless we stop or achieve the end of nuclear stock piles by 5 years or year 10 the world will be definitely blown up. So I am naturally instinctively not sympathetic to that kind of apocalypticism. There is a very serious problem, there is absolutely no question about climate change and also another serious problem that I am not convinced that despite that some of the spin of the Obama administration that actually the way the world economies are meant to respond to this problem of climate change is going to be one that is going to be particularly good for the environment. So I am not dismissing the problem Prince Charles is quite right I just react against that kind of slightly apocalyptic type of formulation.

DIMBLEBY
It comes at the same time of course as 2,500 climate change specialists in Copenhagen have made the most outspoken warning themselves and Nicholas Stern who is chairing has chaired the enquiry says I quote him “do the politicians understand” picks up on what you just said” do the politicians understand just how difficult it can be just how devastating 4, 5, 6 degrees centigrade will be I think not yet” he says. “Looking back at the Stern review" he says “underestimated the risks and underestimated the damage from inaction” Monica Williams what do you make of the Prince’s statement?

MONICA McWILLIAMS
Again very plain language, very outspoken time to make people think when it is coming from inside Buckingham Palace as a response obviously I think to a visit he has also made, whether the timeline proves to be true or not is a different question. I think what was interesting this week for me was a proposal that was put forward to have an international environment court. Now there is a new one. We used to talk about an international criminal court so how do you hold people accountable in other countries? And indeed it was interesting to see politicians saying they were discussing it and would come back to it. One of the ways we have handed it here this whole issue was because we were so focused in Northern Ireland on political civil rights equally on social and economic rights in terms of rights to housing etc employment that often times we forgot about environmental rights and it is that new generation that are talking about the fourth generation of rights. We have put them into the proposal for a bill of rights for Northern Ireland. We are criticized because it said what has that got to do with particular circumstances of Northern Ireland but every single one of us should understand our right and our responsibility to make sure that the environment is protected for future generations. It is a very important human right.

DIMBLEBY
John Mickelthwait you travel the world

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
The 100 months sounds a little scaremongering to me. It is a bit like Bush on the other side saying that global warming didn’t make sense. In terms of solutions I think there are two very simple ones although extremely difficult to achieve. the first is to me rather obviously a carbon tax because that is the only, when you find a price for what we are doing to the planet you have to apply that and you have to cost it and you have to make people push it through and the fact that the carbon tax is something that people seem unable to take is not a good sign and the other I think bigger fact is that in the end the West particularly America and Europe is going to have to pay for China and India for their share of this because their people are going to want to push forward in ways which are not going to be climate friendly and until we come to terms with that and work out how to do it I don’t think much is going to happen.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you we can just squeeze in. I am so sorry Eamonn McCann we can definitely squeeze in Eamonn McCann

EAMONN McCANN
I was going to say I am not sure what Prince Charles’s credentials are really for pronouncing on these things and I don’t know what his credentials are for pronouncing on the architecture of the age or of anything else and I don’t take kindly to this business of 100 months. It is overly dramatic in putting. I believe sort of in the need for dramatic and rapid action to deal with climate change simply because that seems to be the overwhelming view of mainstream and other scientists in the world but I think the way it is presented to us very often is you are going to have to suffer. You are going to have to tighten your belt. You are going to have to accept less in order to save the planet, that is not a very good message and if we have time I would explain to you why it is not necessary. It can be better economically if we adopt green policies than it is at the moment there is no need for this choice between the comfort in our lives and saving the planet on the other.

DIMBLEBY
You mean you can live better and better

EAMONN McCANN
I think it is transformation in the economy which is needed I mean to get away from forms of production and heavy industry and so forth. There are millions of jobs to be crated in green industries, if we are going to stop climate change we have to, for example have a whole different way of producing energy. What we need is swords into plough shares so perhaps or more aptly swords into windmills

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
I think my worry about that is firstly trying to explain that to people particularly in the developing world that they are going to have to slow down but already you can see the Obama

EAMONN McCANN
I didn’t mean slow down I mean change direction

JOHN MICKLETHWAIT
.The main example of someone trying to change direction at the moment is the Obama administration where is actually ample evidence of what is happening is a kind of free for all amongst democratic lobbyists trying to push up greenery.

DIMBLEBY
And there I am afraid we have to stop because we have just about run out of time. Next week we are going to be in another place, great city, called London doesn’t have Derry attached to the end of it and on the panel there will be the City’s Mayor Boris Johnson, the bishop of Rochester, Dr Nazir-Ali, Prof Lisa Jardine and the journalist Christina Lamb. Hope you can join us there but from here in the Playhouse from here in Londonderry or Derry thank you for listening. Goodbye.



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