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.”