Victim’s View

Aileen Quinton, whose mother was killed in the 1987 Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen has decribed her difficulties with recent Government actions in the Belfast News LetterBy Aileen Quinton

Forgive me if I don’t set off poppers in an unrestrained celebration but I do not believe that the IRA is committed to peace. Of course I will be accused of jeopardising the chances of peace. As in Peter Pan if you say that you do not believe in fairies one of them dies. So any return to terrorism will be my fault not the IRA’s.

At the time of the Poppy Day Massacre, all the old clichés were trotted out about how “no stone would be left unturned to bring those responsible to justice” and of course “terrorism does not pay”. If only!.
Despite the hype of the Belfast Agreement in1998, the pronouncements that IRA/Sinn Fein were committed to peace, and the proclaimed “seismic shifts ” that they apparently keep having, we are still applauding them for words about not murdering.

This is Groundhog day.

Am I meant to be grateful because the IRA says that it is going to stop doing something that it had no right starting? In its statement it justifies its actions. So it will have no compunction in starting up again, when the concessions dry up. Our government shows no sign of stopping this flow at the moment, with moves like watchtowers in border areas being dismantled, the RIR etc. This is not based on an assessment of security requirements but merely because the IRA want it. We also face the prospect of an amnesty for the on-the runs. Even the Belfast Agreement did not include this abomination. Why should my mother’s murder be anyone’s ‘free go’? There have of course been lots of other atrocities as well and not only the IRA will benefit. I draw no comfort from the thought that so called “loyalist” terrorists will have their evil written off too. This does not make the score one all. It makes it two nil to terrorism.

So the IRA are talking about stopping something that was wrong, maintaining it was right and which is entirely reversible. Our Government is intent on doing something wrong and irreversible.

If the IRA are not a threat anymore, why are we having an amnesty anyway. It can only be because of the fear that without it the IRA will continue to murder, so our government is going to pardon people that even it considers a terrorist threat.

Her Majesty’s Government should be in the business of safeguarding victims’ rights to justice, not making a present of it to the murderers.

I expect a lot more platitudes about the ‘bigger picture’, ‘the common good’ and “yes, this is difficult for the victims”. But it is for the ‘common good’ that we should not allow the Criminal Justice System to be politicised, especially not at the behest of the criminals. Justice is one of the fundamental building blocks of a peaceful and decent society and the latter cannot be bought by giving away the former. That is like selling the television to pay for the licence. As for it being “difficult”, “difficult” does not matter, We have been doing “difficult” for over 30 years, We can handle “difficult” and would be prepared to do “difficult” for real peace, glad to in fact . This is wrong and it should be impossible.

Some will dismiss my opinions as “coloured by her grief”. Well the IRA broke my heart but my intellect and my values are intact. The ultimate victory for terrorism is when we give up on our values. Blair and Hain may have handed theirs over but I’ll be damned if I will.

First published in News Letter on 5th August 2005