“The Disappeared are way down the (Executive’s) list of priorities..”

The draft Presumption of Death Bill (Northern Ireland) [2Mb pdf file], now out for consultation, is basically a sensible move. But trying to portray it as being ‘of help’ to the families of those abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the Provisional IRA – as Northern Ireland Finance minister Peter Robinson does and as the then Secretary of State for Wales etc Peter Hain did when he first announced it – is not. As the brother of one of those ‘disappeared’ by the Provisional IRA, Oliver McVeigh, says

“A death certificate doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s of absolutely no relevance to me and my family,” said Mr McVeigh. “I know my brother is dead, I don’t need a death certificate to prove it. “The only closure for us is to get the body and get him buried beside his mother and his father.”

I don’t expect the Consultative Group on the Past will have much to say on this issue.. Immunity for those crimes has already been granted.. Btw, Gerry, that year is up.Also from the Irish Times report

But Mr McVeigh said there was more the Executive – and in particular Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness – could be doing to help relieve their suffering.

“This is just a gesture,” he said. “It might mean something to some people, but to most it doesn’t. The Disappeared are way down the (Executive’s) list of priorities.

“Martin McGuinness could be doing a lot more in his capacity. I’d like to see him personally approach people who were involved. “And I don’t mean him delegating other people to do it. I want him to personally go to the people who were involved in the burying of these people.”

Adds And from this BBC report from May 2007

DUP leader Ian Paisley, who met Mrs McVeigh last year and made an appeal for information on the whereabouts of her son’s body, has contacted the family to pass on his condolences.

“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mrs McVeigh,” he said.

“I have been in touch with Mrs McVeigh’s family to express my heartfelt sympathy. I also told her family that I will not allow the issue of the whereabouts of Columba and the other bodies to drop off the agenda.

“I will continue to work to bring about a resolution of this sad and difficult problem.”

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  • interested

    I doubt anyone could or should portray a presumption of death bill as the be all and end all of victims issues. It is of some help to some victims though.

    Different victims want different things – if the consultative group on the past pick up on one thing then they should pick up on that. Some of the relatives of those classified as “the disappeared” would like to see compensation payments and that currently isn’t possible without a death certificate.

    If the consultative group on the past could pick up on one other thing it would be to realise that no-one can appoint themselves to speak on behalf of all victims. There seem to be about two dozen different people/groups who attempt to speak on behalf of all victims. They can’t all be right.

  • wait4it

    Oliver Mcveigh is probably right as far as his own circumstances are concerned but he does not speak for everyone. There are many reasons why this bill makes sense. Without a death certificate families will face legal difficulties with banks, property etc which is in the name of someone presumed dead but not legally registered as deceased. Many other families will find the action brings some level of closure though we can all understand it will never be a substitution for a proper burial.

  • Pete Baker


    As I said in the original post,

    It “is basically a sensible move”, in general.

    But it doesn’t address the concerns in the specific cases it is being linked to.