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Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

Separatists
warn against ‘flag raising exercise’ as Armed Forces Day returns to Scotland

Independence
campaigners outside the SNP – including independent nationalist MSPs and the
Scottish Greens – have voiced
concerns
at the decision by the Ministry of Defence to host 2014’s Armed
Forces Day national event in Stirling, a mere three years after Edinburgh held
it in 2011.

Given
the potentially sensitive timing – soon after the 700th anniversary
of the Battle of Bannockburn and close to the referendum – they are wary of an
event which will put an emphatically British institution, and likely the
British flag, in the Scottish media spotlight.

It
isn’t hard to see why: many separatists are hoping to get a boost from building
the Bannockburn celebrations into the nationalist narrative. A military event
could skew that completely by offering unionists the chance to emphasise that,
whilst seven hundred years ago English and Scots young men were fighting each
other, they’ve spent the last three hundred fighting side by side in the
British armed forces.

Unionists
and the SNP administration, on the other hand, welcomed the news.

McConville
family suing Ministry of Defence and the PSNI

The
family of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was “disappeared” and murdered
by the IRA more than four decades ago on suspicion of being a government
informant, are
suing
the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI, the successor to the Royal
Ulster Constabulary.

The
family claim that the RUC investigation into the abduction was inadequate, and
that the PSNI have subsequently “failed to assist the family’s quest for the
truth”. The PSNI replaced the RUC in 2001, as part of the peace process.

The
case comes ten years after her remains were finally discovered in 2003, buried
on a beach in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland.

Gwent
PPC attacks MPs over scrutiny role

Ian
Johnston, the independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Gwent, criticised MPs for
allegedly treating him unfairly at a parliamentary enquiry into his sacking of
his chief constable, Carmel Napier. Johnston claims that MPs had decided to
make him the “villain of the piece” before the committee met.

Mrs
Napier resigned after being given an ultimatum by Johnston, who took issue with
her management style. The dismissal highlights the powers wielded by PCCs –
often on very small electoral mandates due to disappointing turnout. Member of
the Home Affairs Select Committee were quick to point out that Johnston
received only 8 per cent of the vote, and accused him of having “a disdainful
attitude to scrutiny by Parliament” as well as “a clear over-sensitivity to
criticism”.

Mr
Johnston maintains that he obeyed the letter of established procedures, and
that PCCs are not accountable to parliament.

Unionist
disgust at compensation for family of Real IRA member

Tom
Elliot of the UUP and Jim Allister of the TUV are two prominent unionist
politicians to express shock at the news that the family of Kieran Doherty, a
RIRA member stripped and assassinated by that same organisation three years
ago, are
to receive
“substantial compensation.”

Elliot
claimed that the members of some murdered members of the security forces
receive a “pittance” in comparison, and that “it really does sicken me to hear
the difference. Michael Gallagher, whose son was one of 29 killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing, carried
out by the RIRA and called by the BBC “Northern Ireland’s single worst
terrorist atrocity”, revealed that the families of children under 18 killed there
received only £7,500 each.

Yes
Scotland email hacking: ‘Yes’ paid academic for favourable article

Last
week, I wrote about the police being called
in
after an alleged hack of the Yes Scotland email system. What had tipped
the separatists off was receiving media enquiries that were, apparently, based
on information that could only have come from a private email account.

Those
enquiries have since proved to be about the Yes campaign paying
an academic
to write a comment piece for the Herald newspaper about a post-Union constitution. Controversy has
been sparked by the fact that this payment was not disclosed to the newspaper,
which published the article under the author’s own byline and mentioned their work
at the supposedly-neutral Scottish Constitutional Commission.

Although
Bulmer, a PhD student, was writing in a personal capacity, his article thus
carried the implied weight of the SCC whilst making no mention that it had been
commissioned with political funds. Unionists have called for the resignation of
the Yes campaign director and suggested that other pro-separatist articles may
also have been paid for by the campaign.

Yes
Scotland insist that they have been perfectly open about the payment – a notion
disputed by journalists who claim they were told they couldn’t mention it due
to the ongoing investigation – and that the fuss being kicked up was an attempt
to distract attention from the “assault on democracy” that was their own cyber-attack.

Treasure
hunter uncovers Belfast weapons cache

In
what police are describing as the largest find in years, a metal detector user
has unearthed
16 semi-automatic handguns and over 800 rounds of ammunition at Labreeny Walk,
Belfast.

The
guns were not buried deep, and suspicion has fallen on loyalist paramilitaries
involved in the recent flag protests over Belfast City Hall.

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