Letters to the Editor

US senate will not be fooled by sham Westminster ‘justice' plan

Capitol Hill, Washington DC. US senators Susan Collins and Bob Menendez have introduced a resolution calling for action to "resolve the injustices of past violence" in Northern Ireland 

UNITED States senators, led by Menendez and Collins, introduced a resolution, supporting “full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements including the Stormont House Agreement”. They called for “action to resolve the injustices of past violence”, including state-sponsored violence. These words reflect growing international attention to legacy issues, which justice campaigners have inspired.

The Good Friday Agreement promised to remember the conflict’s “legacy of suffering” by opening a new framework for legacy justice. For hundreds of families who saw loved ones murdered by British crown forces, or loyalist agents, their legacy of suffering is intensified by thoughts that the British state whitewashed the murder of their loved ones. The GFA meant new hope for truth and justice.

Families then fought British intransigence with justice campaigns, inquests, European Court decisions and negotiations. Finally the British and Irish governments entered the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014. They pledged four new legacy bodies including, crucially, a Historical Investigations Unit, to investigate all controversial conflict killings, even those by British forces or collusion killings. 

Six years later the British hint at a decommissioned version of Stormont House, missing its key component of a genuine Historical Investigations Unit. This hollowed-out version could be used to bury truth.    

The week before the Senate Resolution was introduced, Connla Young provided a compelling example, tracking one blood-soaked rifle used to murder a dozen nationalists across east Tyrone and south Derry. (The blood-soaked journey of R18837. How powerful gun smuggled into north by loyalists has been linked to up 12 murders, March 8).

Among its victims, was American citizen and longtime Bronx resident, Liam Ryan. Along with customer Michael Devlin, Liam was shot down at the doorway of the Battery Bar, which he returned to Tyrone to purchase. Mourners at his funeral included Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, future MP and minister Martin McGuinness and former MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Congressman Thomas Manton wanted an American Department of State investigation to include “continuing reports of collusion between the British government and pro-British paramilitary groups”.

Connla Young points to a litany of evidence showing that “UDR members were centrally involved”.  Tell-tale signs of UDR collusion were spotted immediately. Bernadette McAliskey said: “It would be very hard to convince people around here that it wasn’t the Ulster Defence Regiment that killed Liam Ryan and Michael Devlin.”    

Cardinals, congressmen or MPs, could not make killers change weaponry, much less make the crown charge killers, or conduct serious investigations.

The murder gang deployed the same rifle to kill nine more victims, in Cappagh, Cookstown, Moy and Dungannon, before the weapon was found near where killers murdered 76-year-old Roseann Mallon. 

Family members of those 12 victims were among 3,500 signing Relatives for Justice open letter, urging the British and Irish governments to keep the promises of the Stormont House Agreement. 

Westminster may introduce a sham version of Stormont House and pretend it offers legacy justice. 

The Senate Resolution indicates Britain would not fool anyone. 

Martin Galvin
New York

 

Fundraising and awareness event for NSPCC Childline

CHILDREN'S lives over the past year have been turned upside due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic with many spending extended periods of time out of school and behind closed doors.

The NSPCC’s Childline service has heard from thousands of children who have found this time really challenging. Some have felt overwhelmed with home-schooling and struggled to access their learning due to a lack of technology, while others have missed their friends and family and many have seen their mental health deteriorate.

The NSPCC and Childline adapted during the pandemic so our frontline staff could continue to be here as a vital listening ear and as a source of support for those children who felt like they had nowhere else to turn. 

Although some children will be really pleased to be back at school, others may be finding it difficult for many reasons and it is essential those children get the support they need.

To help us be here for children and to remind them that Childline is a source of support that they can turn to, we are encouraging schools across the country to get involved in the NSPCC’s Number Day.

This annual fundraising day, which is based around fun maths activities, will take place in primary and secondary schools across the country on Friday May 7 in aid of the children’s charity. As part of the day, schools can sign up to enjoy puzzles, games and challenges, which can be completed in Covid-secure class bubbles, while raising vital funds.

The activities differ dependant on what key stage it is for and teachers will also be provided with resources including information on supporting your school’s safeguarding and online safety quizzes suitable for children of all ages. 

This year, the NSPCC has created a new game called Buddy’s Key Challenge where pupils can complete maths puzzles to create a key that can unlock a door so the charity’s mascot Buddy can visit your school.

It’s now more essential than ever that children aren’t left alone, isolated and unsupported with their worries, and the money raised from Number Day will help the NSPCC in its mission to make 2021 a better year for children. To sign up, all you need to do is visit the NSPCC’s website, search for Number Day and fill in your school’s details using the registration form.

We also encourage all those schools interested in taking part to remind their pupils that if there is anything that is worrying or upsetting them that Childline is here and that no worry is ever too small. 

Children can call Childline on 0800 111 or visit childline.org.uk for further help and support.

Karen Walker
NSPCC Northern Ireland Schools service manager
Belfast

 

No bones about love of all things British

A REGULAR contributor to your letters page, Robert Sullivan from Cork, makes no bones about his love of all things British. 

In The Irish News (March 30) he goes on about his”dearest neighbour”.
Not really surprised as he constantly attacks anything republican. 

What will he do if we get a united Ireland, move out with Arlene Foster?

A Gibson
Crumlin
Co Antrim

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