Victim’s Commissioner defends Victim’s Forum

Following on from the announcement of the Victim’s Forum one of the Victims Commissioners Brendan McAllister has an opinion piece in the News Letter entitled “’No need to sacrifice principles’ in Victims’ Forum.” It is highly impressive waffle starting with a suitably vague quotation “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” McAllister explains that the commissioners took their time designing the Forum and the sensitivity they showed. He admits that some criticised the Forum’s membership but claimed “the biggest number of calls came from people feeling moved to contact the Victims’ Commission for the first time to raise personal hurts and worries after years of being quiet.”

He then went on to say “On the whole the media have been fair and responsible in reporting news of the forum. However, we seem to have formed a habit of using column inches, airwaves and cyber space to express cynicism and negativity about any new initiative, whether it be in business, politics or, indeed, relating to victims.

Phrases like ‘victims industry’, ‘jobs for the boys’ and ‘junkets and freebees’ fall too easily and lazily from our mouths.”He magnanimously explains that the Commission view such negative comments about themselves “as a sign of weariness and fatigue in this wounded society.” He goes on to explain that in time the Forum will speak with “moral authority.”

All this is of course standard cloying platitudes from the victims industry ignoring the simple fact that putting a murderer on a Victims Forum is a moral perversity almost beyond belief. Alex Kane (also in the News Letter) has characteristically set about destroying what intellectual basis this shoddy enterprise has.

Form Kane’s piece:

“I don’t suppose that anyone was particularly surprised by the make-up of the Victims and Survivors Forum. Indeed, it’s a bit like the Victims’ Commission itself, a sort of smorgasbord in which every sector can claim to have some sort of voice to represent it.”

Kane goes on to explain that it is completely dishonest (and McAllister must know that it is dishonest) to suggest that the Forum (or Commission) can effect any change in the definition of a victim:

“Items on the agenda include the definition of a victim and the Eames/Bradley report. But since the six statutory duties of the Commission do not embrace the definition of victim, how can this new offshoot do anything to alter the definition? We know, already, that Sinn Fein will veto any attempts to change the definition; and we also know that it was that refusal to consider a re-definition which led to the farce of four Commissioners rather than a single one.

And what are they going to do about Eames/Bradley? The Commissioners did nothing about it. Meanwhile, Dennis Bradley insists that he still supports the £12,000 proposals and is busying himself with newspaper articles like this from Friday’s Irish News: “Both (Sinn Fein and the SDLP) have lost their strategic direction and are hearing mounting criticism and disappointment from their supporters. Neither party has laid out a credible plan to enhance or encourage Irish unity. Now that the IRA has gone, they might even consider working up a joint strategy for a new and better Ireland – and that might give all their supporters a bit of hope.”

So if this new Forum doesn’t have the power to rewrite the definition of victim and doesn’t have the power to order the binning of the Eames/Bradley report, then what, precisely, is the point of having the items on the agenda?”

Alex of course probably knows that this is to produce the pretenct of relevance and try to attract in otherwise sensible people like Raymond McCord whom Kane feels should not be involving themselves with the Forum. He also notes Willie Frazer’s presence despite the fact that Frazer suggested recently that he would not attend if terrorists were on the Forum: “They can have as many terrorists as they want sitting on it because there will plenty of empty chairs, as no genuine self-respecting victim would give credibility to such a body.”

Kane goes on to attack the whole Victims Industry “The whole victims’ industry – and that is exactly what it has become, with its four Commissioners, Forum, dozens of representative groups, funding sources and legislation – really depresses me. Nothing will ever convince me that a terrorist (from either side of the fence) can ever be a ‘victim’. And nothing will ever convince me that the family of terrorists – even if they were unaware of the terrorist connections – should ever be considered as ‘victims’.

So rather than trying to define or redefine ‘victim,’ maybe we should look at the definition of ‘perpetrator’ instead? To me a ‘perpetrator’ is someone who unlawfully used a weapon or some other device, tactic or strategy to kill or maim another person, or to place them in fear of their life. Under that sort of definition there are no circumstances in which a terrorist could ever be regarded as a ‘victim’.

Similarly, it covers those occasions in which a member of the security forces unlawfully used their weapon. More importantly, however, it would prevent the sort of linguistic and legalistic fudge which has allowed terrorists and their targets to be classified together.”

His final comments must be typical of very large numbers of people here:

“No, not everyone is a ‘victim’. Hundreds of people were just vicious, brutal, killers. We must never forget that and we must never have a so-called victims’ strategy which allows us to forget it.”

Of course the reality is that the whole purpose of Eames Bradley, the Victims Commission and now the Forum is to blur that distinction into unrecognisability.

  • Neil

    And nothing will ever convince me that the family of terrorists – even if they were unaware of the terrorist connections – should ever be considered as ‘victims’.

    So why pray tell Turgon are you not bitching about the inclusion of Shirley McMichael? Again, you ignore the fact that there is the wife of a sectarian murderer according to the bbc. Now in my opinion she is a victim and has every right to be there.

    Of course the reality is that the whole purpose of Eames Bradley, the Victims Commission and now the Forum is to blur that distinction into unrecognisability.

    Of course the reality is, you don’t define what the reality is, you regularly say that you feel the same way about Unionist killers and Nationalist killers, but then you focus all your attention solely on non prods. Your only focus is Republican paramilitaries, anything you say regarding your feelings on Loyalists is lip service – words only, and that you prove day and daily with your slanted biased posts.

    Finally I’d point out the bizarre, almost hilarious idea of you typing the words ‘the reality is…’, you represent Christian Loyalist/Unionist duplicitous arm chair generals, so when you say ‘the reality is’ what you mean is ‘the reality for me, and the people who think like me is…’, I have a feeling that will be underlined by the way the victim’s forum plays out.

  • Archie P

    Neil…..Shirley McMicheal was John McMicheal’s wife….yes, but she wasn’t a murderer like the IRA man and there is also person who has terrorist links to the IRA…no perpretator nor the representatives of such should be on this forum…only REAL victims should have been invited. It is a disgrace and I happen to agree with Alex Kane 100%.

    I know Brendan well and he is an honest and genuine person, but like many liberal types, he is totally misguided on this occasion but then he is doing what he was appointed to do and is paid almost £70,000 for it.

    Question is – where is the fourth Commissioner??? She has been noticeably absent from all events recently.

  • wild turkey

    ”Phrases like ‘victims industry’, ‘jobs for the boys’ and ‘junkets and freebees’ fall too easily and lazily from our mouths.”

    …or ‘victims industry’, ‘jobs for the boys’ and ‘junkets and freebees’ fall too easily out of the pork barrel and onto the laps of [fill in the blank].

  • Neil

    And nothing will ever convince me that the family of terrorists – even if they were unaware of the terrorist connections – should ever be considered as ‘victims’.

    Neil…..Shirley McMicheal was John McMicheal’s wife….yes, but she wasn’t a murderer like the IRA man and there is also person who has terrorist links to the IRA…It is a disgrace and I happen to agree with Alex Kane 100%.

    So on one hand Alex says no family of terrorist should be considered a victim, you agree with him 100%, but it’s no problem that Shirley is the family of a terrorist?

    Then you go on to specifically mention those with a connection with the IRA, no problem with those who have a connection with the UFF or UDA then Archie? You’re simply a tiny minded sectarian man who consciously or otherwise can justify Loyalist murder.

  • Dec

    And nothing will ever convince me that the family of terrorists – even if they were unaware of the terrorist connections – should ever be considered as ‘victims’.

    This sort of flies in the face of face with his sympathetic treatment of Raymond McCord. Perhaps Alex forgets Raymond McCord Jr was a member of the UVF. Perhaps he doesn’t care.

    As for you, Turgon:

    It is highly impressive waffle starting with a suitably vague quotation

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  • barnshee

    “Brendan McAllister has an opinion piece in the News Letter”

    Summed up brilliantly and never better by Mandy Rice Davies

    “he would woundn`t he”

    and has roughly the same status

  • alan56

    In my experience of talking to ‘people who have suffered’ in the troubles (horrible word victims) very often the people who suffered most are quiet and dignified people who do not want a huge quango and all the politicking that goes with it. It should not be down to who shouts the loudest or gets the most column inches. It may sound trite to call it a victims ‘industry’ but in many ways that is what it is…and it seems to be growing

  • mary savage

    i believe no payment of any sort is to be made to the forum members at all so thats a decent start imagine doing something for nothing,,,,,,,,, public service nothing more nothing less

  • underwood

    Brendan McAllister is an exceptionally honourable man. More so, I would argue, than probably any other “profile” individual in NI. He is highly intelligent, and certainly nobody’s fool or YES man. He happens also to have a history and experience second to none in working at conflict resolution. From the domestic right the way up to the sectarian, the political and the ethnic. I wish him and the Forum well.

  • Tom

    I don’t know if Brendan McAllister is an “exceptionally honourable man” or not. In recruiting a murderer to a ‘victims’ forum’ he is at best wrongheaded, at worst a cynical revisionist seeking to blur the distinction between victim and perpetrator.

    There is no honour in the later and if he has acted knowingly he has made himself party to adding further to the burdens carried by real victims.

  • Archie P

    You are the bigot Neil and a liar to boot….

    How dare you say the following:

    Then you go on to specifically mention those with a connection with the IRA, no problem with those who have a connection with the UFF or UDA then Archie? You’re simply a tiny minded sectarian man who consciously or otherwise can justify Loyalist murder.

    Posted by Neil on Sep 07, 2009 @ 03:49 PM

    I never said that Shirley McMicheal should be a forum member…I merely pointed out she wasn’t an actual terrorist unlike Culbert and Nelis, another member.

    I am no ‘tiny minded sectarian bigot’….I have opposed terrorism from whatever quarter all my adult life….so much so I joined HM Forces to help and fight it…did you do the same.

    You should remember when you point the finger, three fingers are pointing back at you…you large minded sectarian bigot and hatemonger.

  • Maeglin

    Turgon,

    Pray tell me, how does sinn féin have a veto?

  • Maeglin

    …I would be interested to know. it is indeed an allegation your leader has made a number of times. I certainly need clarification of this in the context of a private members bill. An assessment of Kane’s dismissal of a possible bill would be interesting also.

  • igor

    Let me see…what would this money better be spent on

    A victims’ forum or rehousing police officers forced to move home because of imminent threats to their lives and ministerial incompetence?

    But then if we did that just think of all the counsellors, community workers and civil servants who would lose their jobs. No, its just too horrific to contemplate.