St. Patricks Day politics

18 March 2005

President Bush celebrated St. Patrick's Day yesterday by receiving the five sisters of IRA-murder victim Robert McCarthy for a visit at the White House. If you haven't read Robin Wilson's super background on the story on openDemocracy yet, have a look.

For the past decade Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams has been the customary guest of honour for St. Patrick's Day celebrations in America. Not this year. The IRA has silenced all the witnesses in the brutal murder of McCarthy, and allegedly offered simply to shoot the killers to end the fuss. The sisters seek truth and justice for their brother, and have become front figures in what has developed into a campaign to put an end to the IRA. As Polizero blogger Bob Morris puts it,"The McCartney sisters are now playing on a very big chess board, with some of the players no doubt caring little personally about them or their brother."

Is America falling out of love with the IRA? It is, if the American Ireland Fund dinner last night is any indication. Calls to disband the IRA by US politicians have been renewed. But Gerry Adams is still on the charm offensive here, and here, and warned that forcing the IRA to close shop in "a humiliating fashion" could end up leading to a more radical replacement.

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To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

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