Last night I felt saddened at having to miss the annual Rosemary Nelson Lecture due to personal commitments, the event took place in Conway Mill Belfast. The theme of this years event was Freedom of Expression which needless to say covers a broad range of issues both locally and internationally.
Freedom of expression to me is the right to express a view whether it be through protest, art or writing, that said it is open to further interpretation. These freedoms today are continually under threat with British laws becoming overly stringent and oppressive in their continuous attempts to curtail free assembly and the right to free speech.
Having finished off a piece of work today I decided to log into facebook, I have to say I wish hadn't bothered. Without going into too much detail I came across a thread suggesting the need to request permission to hold a protest. Just to be clear this did not come from the Parades Commission this came from a social justice activist. To ensure my interpretation of what I was reading was correct I sought clarification only to be told that this was indeed the case.
Freedom of expression is something that is very much under threat. In recent times you may have read the various statements surrounding the release of a song to highlight the plight of the Craigavon Two. The Craigavon Two are serving life sentences for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll in 2009. The issue of the song has been quite controversial, so much so that some would say that prior to it's release it has already served it's purpose in highlighting the issue. Whilst I deeply sympathise with the wife of the late constable Carroll, having read the court judgements I remain convinced that these two men are innocent as was the opinion of the late Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four who campaigned tirelessly on their behalf.
In law you often hear the phrase beyond reasonable doubt, this is when the probability the defendant committed the crime (based on the evidence) is equal or greater than the interpretation of beyond reasonable doubt. In the case of the Craigavon Two I would use the term beyond the belief of any reasonable and objective person with the two men serving life sentences on the word of a paid informant, circumstantial evidence and deleted data.
The recent appeal to have the men freed was later dismissed despite the evident holes in the case. The more concerning but not surprising aspects of the case stem from allegations of police harassment and interference, including the arrest of a witness for the defence and attempts to sully the professional integrity of the legal team involved in the case.
The case of the Craigavon Two exposes the malevolence and inbuilt weaknesses within the British justice system coupled with the failure of the PSNI to carry out a robust and comprehensive investigation into the Carroll killing. As a consequence the Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton are languishing in prison cells with the law in this case favouring political expediency over truth and justice.
On March 15th at 7pm the aforementioned song will be available for download from, iTunes , Amazon & Google Play. Please download to show your opposition to this latest miscarriage of justice.