Here’s an interesting question for a cold Tuesday morning: why did Peter and Sammy get so het-up about judges this past while? You know what I’m talking about – the way flag protestors didn’t get bail and a charged republican got jail. Why was it such an important item for them to raise?
Well, it could have been because they want judges to be held more accountable for their decisions. This seems to me reasonable – there is an awful lot of tomfoolery connected with the judiciary here and in Britain. In a blog a while back, I questioned the reasoning behind a judicial decision some year ago and I got responses demanding to see my law degree, did I think I knew better than the judge in question, what kind of a big-head was I? And I haven’t even mentioned those daft wigs and robes they wear. (Yes, yes, Virginia, just like cardinals, except cardinals have a small little cap and judges have a very big wig.) So I’m with Sammy and Peter on the need for openness and the explanation of judgements.
But why are Peter and Sammy hot and bothered now? After all, the juryless Diplock courts were a feature of life here for decades (tell me they’ve abolished them, please) and yet I don’t remember Peter or Sammy being critical of a judiciary which dispensed with a jury and did the finding guilty/not guilty (but mainly guilty) themselves. The reason for the present DUP agitation can be summed up in two words: East Belfast.
That’s the seat the Alliance took from Peter Robinson and that’s the seat he must, on peril of his political life, win back next time. So if getting annoyed with a judge over not granting bail to flag protestors is necessary in order to reassure a section of loyalism that the DUP is their bestest friend, then that’s what they’ll do. Perhaps Peter and Sammy would like to get a bit more glasnost into the judicial system. But you can bet your life savings that they would far prefer to win that pesky seat back again.