On 4 December 1971, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, exploded a bomb at McGurk’s Bar in Belfast, Ireland. The pub was frequented by members of the Irish nationalist community.The explosion caused the building to collapse, killing fifteen civilians and wounding seventeen more. Despite evidence to the contrary, the security forces publicized the theory that a bomb had accidentally exploded while being handled by IRA members inside the pub; inferring that the victims themselves were partly to blame. A report later found that the police were biased in favour of this view, and that this hindered their investigation. In 1977, UVF member Robert Campbell was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the bombing.
With many thanks to the: James Connolly Association Australia for the original posting.
Sinn Féin’s northern leader has said an agreement with the government to release money for Troubles-related inquests still stands.
Michelle O’Neill said the funding would be forthcoming despite the collapse of power-sharing talks earlier this month.
Ms O’Neill was speaking at a march for survivors and relatives of those killed by loyalists and the security forces.
Meanwhile, the victims’ commissioner said a political deal was desirable but not necessary for progress on legacy.
Since the latest round of talks collapsed, the two main parties – Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – have blamed each other for the breakdown, saying there was disagreement over legislation for the Irish language.
While not in the so-called draft agreement, Sinn Féin said they had a separate “commitment” from the government to put inquest funding and other measures to deal with the past out to public consultation.
The legacy inquests include some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles, and Northern Ireland’s most senior judge previously asked for money to deal with the backlog of outstanding cases.
The DUP has said it was not aware of the deal between Sinn Féin and the government in the absence of an overall agreement.
The government has said that all its discussions were in the context of how it would respond to an overall deal.
On Sunday, Ms O’Neill said: “I am crystal clear that we have an agreement with the British government that they would release both the legacy inquest funding and a consultation on the legacy mechanisms.
“That position still stands – I met with Theresa May last week and I put that to her that they need to not play fast and loose with victims.”
Ms O’Neill was among several thousand people to turn out for a rally in Belfast city centre on Sunday.
Victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, who was at the rally, said the event was a step in the right direction but legacy issues should not be politicised.
“I want to see an even bigger event. I want to see Royal Avenue flooded with victims and the general public,” he said.
“And victims from unionist and nationalist communities standing with each other.
“Sinn Féin is heavily involved here and I want to see an event with no political parties whatsoever for all victims.”
Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson said the parties were “not a million miles apart” on how to deal with the past but any consultation must not be marred by political fighting.
“There are people marching in Belfast for truth,” she said.
“People who have waited four decades for inquests and investigations, and the same people exist in every constituency.
“It’s really important we deal with this stuff and an argument between our parties about a political context, which is clearly very difficult right now, must not get in the way of things they are broadly in agreement with.”
With many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story
A GROUP of 50 North of Ireland lawyers have signed a letter expressing concerns at the “vacuum confronting victims and survivors seeking access to Justice”.
The solicitors, specialising in legacy cases, represent a range of law firms. They have said it is ” unacceptable and intolerable” that the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement more than three years ago, have yet to be implemented. They have also expressed concerns at growing calls by a number of Conservative MPs for a statute of limitation to prevent any further investigations into the actions of British soldiers while serving in the North of Ireland during the Troubles. The lawyers include Patricia Coyle, Niall Murphy, Kevin Winters, Pádraig Ó Muirigh, Patrick Fahy and Peter Madden.
They have signed a letter carried in today’s Irish News and printed below this story saying that they are committed to a “human rights compliant approach to addressing outstanding legacy issues”. ” We also note the delays which many families have recently been notified of, in respect of pending reports by the Police Ombudsman, as a result of recent litigation by the Retired Police Officers Association. “The maxim that justice delayed is justice denied could not be more approprite in the circumstances. “The loss suffered by many families in our recent conflict has been compounded by the failure of the justice system in the past to acknowledge the wrong done to them.
“If we are to restore confidence in the justice system and rule of law it is imperative that the reasonable expectations of the victims are implemented without any further delay.” The lawyers confirmed they will also be joining with victims’ families and campaigners at a march this Sunday in Belfast. Participants in the Time for Truth march will assemble at noon at two separate locations in the city; the McGurk’s Bar memorial in north Belfast and Divis Tower in west Belfast before making its way to Belfast City Hall.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allision Morris Security Correspondent.
Human rights lawyers lend support to Time for Truth march.
We the undersigned are writing this letter in support of the ‘Time for Truth’ march organised by the Loughinisland, Ballymurphy, Springhill, New Lodge 6, McGurk’s, Kelly’s Bar and Ormeau Road campaign groups.
We recognise and acknowledge the growing frustration and concern of families over the refusal of the British government to address legacy issues and the deepening justice vacuum confronting victims and survivors seeking access to justice. We beleive that it is unacceptable and intolerable that the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement of December 2014 and the five-year plan to complete outstanding legacy inquests outlined by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, in February 2016 have yet to be implemented.
It is also a matter of great concern to us that elements within the British political establishment appear intent on implementing urgent legislation designed to shield former members of the British army against prosection. It is surely of no coincidence that this has been prioritised by the British government in circumstances where decisions on whether to prosecute British soldiers, for what former British prime minister David Cameron MP described as the “unjustified and unjustifiable” murders and attempted murders of innocent unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday are exspected imminently.
We also note the delays which many families have recently been notified of, in respect of pending reports by the Police Ombudsman, as a result of recent litigation by the Retired Police Officers Association. The maxim that justice delayed is justice denied could not be more appropriate in the circumstances.We are committed to a human rights compliant approach to addressing outstanding legacy issues.
We fully endorse the recent demands of the march organisers for the British government to inplement the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House Agreement, the resourcing of legacy inquests as set out by the Lord Chief Justice and the proper resourcing of the Police Ombudsman’s office. The loss suffered by many families in our recent conflict has been compounded by the falure of the justice system in the past to acknowledge the wrong done to them. If we are to restore confidence in the justice system and rule of law it is imperative that the reasonable expectations of the victims are implemented without any further delay. We appeal to all citizens to join victims and survivors on the ‘Time for Truth’ march this Sunday to Belfast City Hall. We will walk with them. Signed:
Padraig Ó Muirigh, Niall Murphy, Fearghal Shiels, Mark Austin, Philip Breen, Caitlin Bunting, Stephen Cassidy, Patricia Coyle, Micky Crawford, Catherine Dowling, Paul Duffy, Mark Durkan, Patrick Fahy, Michael Fahy, John Finucane, Adam George, Michael Halleron, Marie Hans, John Keown, Rosie Kinnear, Keith Kyle, Sinead Larkin, Tracey Lenzi, Michael Madden, Partick Madden, Peter Madden, Don Mahoney, Paddy MacDermott, Chris McCann, Paul McCann, Kevin McDonnell, Francine McFarland, Conall McGarrity, Claire McGoldrick, Ciaran McGuiness, Paddy McGurk, Claire McKeegan, Joe McVeigh, Meabh Molloy, Eoin Murphy, Anna Nugent, Marguerite O’Halleron, Adam O’Kane, Paul Pierce, Jack Quigley, Nicholas Quinn, Ciaran Shiels, Ciaran Toner, Kevin Winters.