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2 January 2017

Other than the usual suspects, here are some people we could well do without in 2017

Lawyers, civil servants and politicians are all candidates for the cull, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth suggests Northern Ireland does not need Robin Newton
Ruth suggests Northern Ireland does not need Robin Newton

This time last year I obligingly provided readers of this paper with a list of people Northern Ireland would be better off without. I was clearly in drastic spring-cleaning mode, as among those I proposed was Thomas “Slab” Murphy, whom I despatched to Libya in a ship big enough to accommodate all his South Armagh criminal associates, the so-called dissidents, their opposite numbers in the UDA and UVF and — as mediators — Gerry Kelly (because of his sectarian election leaflets) and Ian Paisley (because of his alliance with lawyer Paul Tweed to block libel reform and make Belfast the libel and privacy capital of the world).

At least Murphy went to jail, although it’s depressing to learn this weekend from newly released government files that as early as 1990 senior officials had good evidence of his involvement in fuel smuggling and did nothing.

They probably muttered about not endangering the peace process.

There are many fine civil servants, but there are others who want a quiet life at all costs, some of whom appear to have been turning a blind eye to what was going wrong with the RHI scheme.

They should be deported, along with any politicians of any persuasion (and Special Advisers) who thought wasting public money didn’t matter, since they were under the mistaken impression that the Treasury would foot the bill.

That’s not what we pay them to do.

Unionists, as well as nationalists, are prone to forgetting that they are British taxpayers too.

So are many lawyers, when it comes to legal aid, and curiously, solicitors well-known for taking cases against the state are particularly assiduous and successful in taking money off it.

Last year, Madden & Finucane topped the poll of recipients with £2,203,196.66 and KRW Law (as Kevin R. Winters and Co are now known) were hot on their heels with £2,194,734.16.

I was involved with the civil case against some of the Omagh bombers and saw up close how the whole legal system north and south complicated and slowed down everything and ate money.

I have nightmarish fantasies about the entire world juddering to a halt as legal tentacles creep into everything and unintelligible documents and laws that terrify people into silence produce paralysis.

So, I’d send 90% of lawyers out of Northern Ireland on an educational sabbatical year to be spent practising in non-Western states.

Meanwhile, I’m writing A Fleece of Lawyers, a satire on human rights lawyers, because you can write what you like in fiction.

Having incurred more than my fair share of libel aggro from NI lawyers representing republicans and unionists, these days I’m cautious about accusing anyone of anything, and many nominations from friends would land me in court, but I’ve no hesitation in suggesting that at the moment Northern Ireland really doesn’t need the hapless Robin Newton.

And I endorse Mairia Cahill’s nomination of Danny Morrison.

“Regardless of political differences,” she said, “anyone who wears a hat like that in public thinking it makes them look cool, deserves to be deported.”

For the same reason, the serial suer and hat-wearer George Galloway should be turned away when he arrives at Belfast airport en route to consult KRW Law, his solicitors.

Mairia wants Jude Collins to go too.

I’m selfishly torn. I keep having to argue with him on the radio when Sinn Fein are in hiding on some issue and he’s wheeled out as a stand-in, but while his total inability to listen makes debating with him very wearing, he certainly doesn’t put up much of an intellectual challenge.

The Green Party’s Ciaran McClean, whom I admire even though I think some of his opinions daft, suggested that “Landlord MLAs, men/women of property should not be legislators and would be best suited to climes afar.

“Those calling for transparency on RHI yet wishing to retain donor secrecy laws should be banished on the charge of rank hypocrisy.”

I understand what he’s getting at with the first, even if it’s too communist for me, but I like the second very much.

Maybe we should charter an ocean liner, send the hypocrites to join the lawyers and start telling the truth without looking over our shoulders.

Happy New Year!

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards