Letters to the Editor

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 believe 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 prosecution.
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 expected 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 implement 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 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.

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:

Pádraig Ó Muirigh

Niall Murphy

Fearghal Shiels

Mark Austin

Philip Breen

Caitlín 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

Patrick 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

Seamus Quigley

Nicholas Quinn

Ciaran Shiels

Ciaran Toner

Kevin Winters

 

 

GFA is a major barrier to Tory march to ‘one true Brexit’

So, the zealots of Brexit have now turned their attention to the Good Friday Agreement in further pursuit of their wrecking agenda. I’m surprised it took them so long to cop on.
Not content with putting at risk the entire UK’s economic prosperity by turning their backs on the customs union and single market, they next want to risk destroying 20 years of relative peace as they chase their hard Brexit goal. Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP, is the latest wolf to join the pack as both he and arch Brexiteer Owen Paterson triumphantly proclaim the agreement dead in the water, allegedly because of last week’s breakdown in the talks process. How stupid do they really think we are? The GFA means nothing to these people because it is a major barrier to their march on to the ‘one true Brexit’. It is dangerous and shameful ideology masquerading as so-called informed opinion. Anyone with a scintilla of concern for what people here suffered for 30 years – before the GFA put an end to the catalogue of death and destruction – should be singing its praises rather than pronouncing on its demise.

Many things will be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit, but I doubt very much if Paterson and Co have the fire power to persuade their own government that ratting on an international treaty that is lodged with the UN and risking a renaissance of the Troubles is a good idea to further the Brexit journey. The stalemate in restoring devolution here predominantly impacts on Strand 1 of the GFA – the assembly and the executive. By attacking the agreement the band of Brexiteers hope to start a contagion that will wreck Strands 2 and 3 – the governing arrangements that affect north-south and east-west relationships. It is the latter they are really targeting as it is Strands 2 and 3 they perceive as a threat to their nefarious plans for a hard Brexit.

After 20 years of not routinely killing each other here, this band of mavericks who promote the no-deal Brexit scenario must not be allowed to go unchallenged. Brexit on its own is a big enough threat to peace on this island without them trying to stoke the fire.

The agreement is all that stands between most people in NI who wish only to live in peace and prosperity with their neighbour and a return to the sickening violence of the past.  Why would any sane person want to even contemplate that, never mind risk it?  

E O CASSIDY
Omagh, Co Tyrone

 

Why so much unionist hysteria?

I am frustrated at the collapse of the talks at Stormont over an Irish Language Act according to the DUP.
Sinn Féin have claimed that a draft agreement was in place that the DUP pulled out of. The terms for the potential Irish language act were quite modest compared to what the hysteria from unionist circles has discussed this week – no-one being forced to learn the language, and no civil service quotas for Irish speakers. Such an act can hardly be perceived as an act of cultural warfare seeking to establish cultural superiority, especially when an accompanying act for the Ulster-Scots language was agreed, according to Mary Lou McDonald. A language act could also bring the north up to scratch with the rest of the kingdom these unionists love so much.
This reader dislikes the union but Wales has a Welsh Language Act, Scotland has a Gaelic Language Act, the Republic has an Irish Language Act and is an official language of the European Union. Why is the law of the rest of the land not so important here?
Jim Allister also had the gall to question the cost of such an act, when he is more than happy to support Brexit which will cost the north billions of pounds.

The burden of proof is now on Arlene Foster to prove she never agreed to this provisional agreement as claimed by Sinn Féin and to explain why the talks process has collapsed at the last minute.

TÁRLACH RUSSELL
Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

 

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