THE decision by the UK’s Supreme Court to declare unlawful Gerry Adams' internment in the 1970s is obviously welcome to him and his family but neither is it a cause for celebration as it hinges on a technicality and does not categorise detention without trial as being in itself unlawful or recognise the denial of human rights inherent in the policy.
The court ruled that his detention was unlawful because the then Secretary of State had not signed the order for it. That is hardly a triumph of justice. The Supreme Court had it within its power to ruminate on the legality of locking people up without trial but failed to do so. The judges' attitude brings to mind the 1979 appeal by the Birmingham Six when Lord Denning denied that appeal because it would involve a finding that the police had lied, something which he described as an 'appalling vista' that could not be countenanced.
Internment was a brutal and coercive denial of human rights. The fact that the Supreme Court failed even to address that aspect of the issue reveals that little has changed in the mindset of those at the summit of British justice.