Friday 21 September 2018

Move to stop extraditions to UK sparks Unionist anger

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Suzanne Breen

Unionists have reacted angrily after Cork County Council passed a resolution calling on the Government to stop extraditing Irish citizens to the UK over Brexit legal concerns.

The council urged the dramatic step to be taken amid claims that Britain will not adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) after leaving the EU.

Unionists insisted that these were "baseless fears" and said that adherence to the ECHR didn't relate to membership of the EU.

Councillors backed a motion from Independent representative and former Sinn Féin member Kieran McCarthy. He claimed that prisoners in Maghaberry jail were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment.

Mr McCarthy said Britain had a long history of human rights abuses in Ireland and had previously been brought before the European Court over its conduct in Northern Ireland.

TUV leader Jim Allister claimed that Cork County Council's misgivings were "baseless fears".

TUV leader Jim Allister claimed that Cork County Council’s misgivings were 'baseless fears'. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
TUV leader Jim Allister claimed that Cork County Council’s misgivings were 'baseless fears'. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

He said: "Though cloaked in a diatribe of anti-British rhetoric, the ignorance at the heart of this proposal is equally shocking.

"The UK is not leaving the Council of Europe, to which the European Convention on Human Rights belongs, but is leaving the EU. Thus, Brexit has no bearing on our obligations under the ECHR, but clearly Cork County Council had no interest in letting such a reality get in the way of a good British-bashing session.

"There is no reason why there shouldn't be a future extradition treaty with the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit. Sadly, in the past the Republic shamelessly dragged its feet on such matters to the evident advantage of those engaged in cross-Border murders."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "Those who brought this motion forward are using Brexit as a convenient excuse for anti-British sentiment.

"There are 19 existing non-EU states which belong to the Council of Europe, the parent body of the ECHR. Adherence to the ECHR does not relate to membership of the European Union. I am surprised that Cllr McCarthy and his colleagues are ignorant of this fact.

"The Republic of Ireland has a shameful history when it comes to the extradition of suspects during the Troubles.

"From 1973 until 1997 the UK sought the extradition of 110 suspects from the Republic, but only eight were extradited," he said.

Mr Donaldson added that it was important to uphold human life and it should be remembered that terrorists "regularly breach the most fundamental human right of all - the right to life".

Irish Independent

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