Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The right to reject republican revisionism

The Irish News reports that a case brought by two former terrorists will be heard by the House of Lords this morning. Sean McConkey and Jervis Marks are challenging an employment tribunal which found that the Simon Community charity which employed them was entitled to treat the pair unfavourably on the basis of their political extremism and criminal pasts.

Convicted murderer, McConkey, claimed that the case would determine whether former IRA prisoners, “should be allowed to play a positive role in society”.

With unrepentant terrorists at the heart of Northern Ireland’s government, such people currently play a more than sufficient role in society. Whilst enabling them to continue to do so, we should not prejudice employers’ discretion to choose whether or not their organisation feels a former terrorist makes an appropriate employee.

We hear a lot about the rights of former prisoners, but these people were convicted of criminal offences which were carried out in the furtherance of a violent, extremist cause. The republican interpretation of the troubles should not be legally enforced on prospective employers.

To do so would confer retrospective acceptability on people which society is fully at liberty to consider pariahs. The right to say, ‘we will not employ those who murdered and maimed’, is much the more important entitlement in this case.

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