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Learning from past mistakes

(Editorial, Irish News)

A report released yesterday (Friday) by the British government dealt with the aftermath of the suicide bombings that claimed 52 lives in London on July 7 last year, recounting the many stories of human suffering.

The Home Office reviewed the response of the emergency services to the bombings and while it commended the hard work of rescuers and medical teams, it quite rightly highlighted ways in which systems could be improved.

There were distressing accounts of how relatives struggled to find information on the whereabouts of missing loved ones, while walking wounded had made their own way home from the scenes of the blasts without receiving medical help.

It is vital the authorities take note of the mistakes which occurred on that dreadful day and ensure they are not repeated.

But as governments around the world struggle to cope with the changing international climate, President Mary McAleese this week recommended that as we move to protect society, we should also protect the legal rights of the individual.

Addressing the Law Society of England and Wales in London, the president cited miscarriages of justice which occurred during the Troubles.

She recalled the treatment of the Maguire family, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, while also applauding what she described as the 'stunning' independence of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.

The president offered valuable advice to all those interested in meeting the threats facing the modern world when she told her audience: "Consistency in showing respect for the human person is a key value and a key test of the credentials of the rule of law. Terrorism does exactly the opposite."

President McAleese was reminding us all of the wisdom of learning the lessons of the past.

September 25, 2006

This article appeared first in the September 23, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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