What Roles do Civil Servants of Governments Play in

Report
What Roles do Civil Servants
of Governments Play in Ireland
in Respect of Policy in
Northern Ireland?
Primacy of Ministers who are Elected: Not Just a
Shibboleth but a Reality - Certainly in Ireland
• - importance of Taoisigh and Ministers at
the Coalfare (?) Summit and Ministerial
Meetings
• - all decisions/positions on major issues
cleared at Ministerial level, often at
Government level (memo for Government)
• - but still great deal less for officials to do
Roles Played by Officials
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- composing, choosing, selling, testing formulate of words; they can act as bridges, signals,
messages and can, potentially, command agreement on part of different sides, with different
interests/objectives; pluses and minuses of "constructive ambiguity"
- analysing interests/objectives/priorities of different parties and
~ briefing ministers orally
~ writing papers/reviews
~ negotiating (examples below)
~ devising and establishing structures and institutions and then operating these
~ going to meetings - lots of meetings!
~ acting as impresario/organizer of events and programmes
~ advising on policy - orally or on paper - and on reactions to events; and devising or adapting
concepts
~ writings speeches for Minister or officials or other public statements, such as answers to
Parliamentary Questions
~ drafting (writing) new legislation, including to amend Constitution of Ireland
~ assessing proposals for economic development
~ considering other applications for money e.g. from academic or reconciliation bodies
~ gathering information; by reading and through contacts, in person, on phone, etc. etc.
~ maintaining and extending informal contacts
~ consulting legal advisers
Examples of Wordsmithing-1
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(1) Anglo-Irish Summits of 21.5.1980 (teapot summit) and 8.12.1980: "unique relationship" and
"totality of relationship"
- pre-negotiation of communiqu?s
~ May: 20 cut outs of phrases
~ December: totality, etc. - coined in November 1980 by senior British official
- December circumstances: hunger strike, security, Maggie sleep in Dublin Castle, loo; top level
British delegation; Rhodesia precedent, Lord Carrington
- Maggie: "what does it mean?"; Lord Carrington's answer
- interests/aims of different actors; subtlety blown by Brian Lenihan (senior); Maggie in Maastricht
- longevity of phrase; it is in the Good Friday Agreement
(2) Language re: authority, power, function, accountabilities of North-South Ministerial Council and
North-South implementation bodies under Good Friday Agreement
- "challenge to present matters in such a way that republicans would interpret words as the
embryo of a united Ireland while unionists would argue that the same words amounted to an
endorsement of partition"
- compromises: legal origins versus accountability
~ numbers - definite-ness versus limits
(3) Wording of paragraph 5.7 of 1984 Report of the New Ireland Forum
another retired Supreme Court Justice
Examples of Wordsmithing-2
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- "The particular structure of political unity which the Forum would wish to see
established is a unitary state, achieved by agreement and consent, embracing the
whole island of Ireland and . . ."
~ deadlock in Forum, downsides of that
~ Hume passes chalice to Mallon; trip to Markethill at weekend, drafting language
there, selling in Dublin on Monday
~ Mallon to Haughey, Haughey to Hume, Hume to Fitzgerald
(4) Article 1 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985
- "The two Governments
(a) affirm that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about
with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland . . . "
~ "would" or "could," "status," or "constitutional status"
~ precedent for "would" in joint communiqu? of 21 May 1980 (teapot) so Fianna Fail
criticism spiked in advance
~ also protection from constitutional challenge; stood to us when such a challenge
was taken by the Unionist McGimpsey brothers
~ Supreme Court passed statement as no more than a statement of predictive
expectation but said Articles 2 and 3 of Irish Constitution were a constitutional
imperative for Irish Government
Examples of Wordsmithing-3
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(5) Irish Government Dossier of New Evidence in Relation to Bloody Sunday
- television programmes by British T.V. Stations
- secret confession by British paratrooper participant
- radio traffic logs: ham operator
- strong pressure from relatives of victims and from inured
- editor-in-chief of dossier, drawn up by 3 man team
- presented to Tony Blair by Taoiseach John Bruton: powerful case, hard to deny
- decision to establish Bloody Sunday Tribunal
- need to restrain colleagues' exuberance with words
(6) Arrangements and Terms of Reference for Judicial Inquiry in South into Dublin and Monaghan
Bombings
- bombings on 30 May 1974; 33 killed
- inadequacies and early closure of police investigation
- efforts over years through questions to Ministers - unavailing 'straight bat' by Department of
Justice
- T.V. programme - again by British TV station but still straight bat
- Dublin bombing occurred in Dublin Central, constituency of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, so
vulnerable to pressure from grassroots
- meetings with relatives; Saturday morning negotiation of terms of reference of inquiry, later
conducted under chair of former Chief Justice and, after his early death,
Negotiating
• - different negotiating partners:
• ~ our own colleagues/Departments
• e.g. re: functions and powers of North-South implementation bodies,
Eamonn Kennedy
• ~ British officials, run ups to summits
• ~ Northern Ireland officials and unionist representatives on worming
out Strand 2 of Good Friday Agreement (Irish offices in Stormont - if
1985, quarter of a million protesters outside; number/frequency of
NSMC meetings)
• ~ Sinn Fein top people in Dublin castle on Thursday night before
Friday morning meeting of drafting committee of Forum for Peace
and Reconciliation
• - records of Pat Doherty (enforcer) and Rita O'Hare (enticer) but
then apparent bona-fides
• - issues were word formulae around self-determination and consent:
huge republican baggage on these issues
Devising and Establishing
Structures
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- words/concepts have to be often translated into structures and institutions
- examples
~ 1981 Irish-British Joint Study on Possible new Institutional Structures
* superior experience of British side
* but helps to know what you want
> Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council - was platform for 1985, later 1998 East-West institution
with Irish droit de regard over NI
> Anglo-Irish/British-Irish Parliamentary Body
~ 1984 start of New Ireland Forum: party leaders' meeting to agree Terms of Reference; "the
shape of the table" (of Paris talks on Vietnam)
~ representation strengths in 1994 Forum for Peace and Reconciliation
* extra seat for Alliance
* observers (?) for loyalist prisoners after unsuccessful meeting with loyalist parties in Onaker
Home, Belfast
* adjustment for SDLP, compared with 1984-85 Forum, given major aim in 1994 was to nurse SF
along
~ Post-GFA working out of structures for North-South and East-West
* location of NSMC secretariat - Armagh - reasons for this
> financing
> personnel issues re: cross jurisdiction bodies, et. etc.
Attending Meetings
• - over the years, with SDLP delegations
• - in Multi-Party Talks, 1996-98, every morning with British, Senator
George Mitchell, his co-chairman and staff, and throughout the day,
with many other delegations
• - with families of hunger strikers (1981), of victims of bombings
(Dublin, Omagh, RUC widows)
• - as part of various official North-South or Irish-British working
groups
• * Centre Group, post-GFA on implementation of Strands 2 and 3
(McDonalds!)
• * Liaison Group in run-in to GFA
• * advisory committee of International Fund for Ireland (political
pitfalls, balances)
• - as part of devising, co-ordinating Irish Government policy
• * Co-ordination Committee of all relevant departments, post GFA
Orchestrator of
Events/Impresario
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- Clinton visits: US Secret Service "take no prisoners"
- big advance parties, security arrangements
- location of events; balances to be struck (Bank of Ireland)
- Guinness Storehouse; top-floor relegation for captains of industry;
but all complaints re: Celia on the platform where Clinton spoke
- First Meeting of North-South Ministerial Council, Armagh, 1999
~ appeal to Hume
~ failure to foresee visual impact of fleet of Merceda carrying Irish
Ministers (not privy to RUC plans for security)
- 20 December 1994: first public hearing meeting of Forum for
Peace and Reconciliation (started 28.10.1994)
~ prisoner issues
~ victims
~ powerful impact, helped establish credibility of Forum
Policy and Concepts
• - research: ahead of 1981
• - joint studies: Nordic Council, Benelux, FrancoGerman Treaty of Co-operation, Antarctic (!);
later, in 1991-1993, evolution of international
interpretation of self- determination
• - commissioning studies in Fera (?)
• ~ Boyle/Hadden on Human Rights Protection;
Eide (Norway) on Protection of Group Rights;
Studies on Potential for Single Island Economy
Speeches and Parliamentary
Questions
• - PQs a weekly task: way to give reactions
to "events" and to incrementally develop
detail of policy and send political signals of
this
• - lots of speaking engagements and
therefore speeches
• - not the same resources as in US and UK
Legislation
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- 1999 British Irish Agreement Act
~ build up block by block over months
~ problems of different Irish and British styles of drafting laws
~ rush at the end, unprecedented all-night session by Office of
Parliamentary Draftsmen
- 19th Amendment to the Constitution Act 1998
~ people, not territory
~ need to retain leverage; delayed application of amendments to old
Articles 2 and 3, until other parties fulfilled their part of the bargain
~ need to overcome restrictive effort, re: North-South of old Article 3
~ Diaspora clause
~ different inputters into the wording
~ need to sell it to Fianna Fail, so draw on "sacred texts" including
Lemass 1963 Report
Gathering Information/Extending
Contracts
• - organizations in Britain e.g. British-Irish Rights Watch,
Sister Sarah
• - British-Irish Association: annual conferences a
framework for contacts/exchanges - media, military,
police, officials
• - BIA as a back-channel in lead up to December 1980
Summit
• - politicians in North - Hume, Mallon, Currie, Logue
• - Department of Foreign Affairs, "travellers" - contacts
with all sides in Northern Ireland (Bill Craig, lawyers,
bishops and clergy of all denominations, police, military,
etc. etc.)
Legal Advisers
• - shared building with officials of Office of
the Attorney General
• - "wise owls"; lawyers who give you
solutions, not problems

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