Panic Attack: Injunction used by State to lock down the past

Graffiti against the work of the Historical Enquiries Team, Mount Vernon estate, Belfast By Keresaspa - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Graffiti against the work of the Historical Enquiries Team, Mount Vernon estate, Belfast
By KeresaspaOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In the wake of the recent exposure of the illegal partices of the Historical Enquiries Teams, the issue of Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland took a new blow this weekend as the government was granted an injunction to stop the circulation of public records in relation to three conflict related killings. The documents include inquest and court papers which relatives, lawyers and NGOs regularly request from the Public Records Office. In this instance these documents, which are not subject to the thirty year rule regarding release, have been thought too sensitive for ciruclation by the government and therefore will be released only after redaction.

The argument of the government is that redaction is necessary so as to not prejudice any furture prosecution and that its action are in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, which is disingenuous given this government’s position on the Convention. The arguments of sensitivity will not hold in that these documents are in the public domain and were released by a Minister of the Stormont Executive; the Westminster Executive has decided to trouche this ministerial decision in an action of political censorship.

On the back of the HET scandal and with legal action pending regarding the McGurk’s Bar bomb, this reliance on public law by the government serves only to make Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland, and particularly the role of state in the the conflict, even more toxic.


For more information on this release contact Yasmine Ahmed (Director) on (+44) 0208 004 0941 or email

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