Justice for the innocent

On Monday night in West Belfast a 70 strong audience listened to families of injustice give heart-breaking and emotional addresses to an SDLP public meeting on “Justice for the Innocent”.

Catherine McCartney, sister of Robert McCartney, Breege Quinn, the mother of Paul Quinn, Raymond McCord whose son was murdered by UVF on 9th November 1997, Gerry Conlon, Guildford Four and Alan McBride, Wave joined Denis Bradley and Alex Attwood in a discussion on the need for justice for innocent and how you can deal with the past on an ethical basis.

Throughout the evening the audience sat silently as they listened to the personal and painful stories of families who have suffered so much but our united in their demand for truth justice.

Afterwards, Cllr Tim Attwood told me “Over four decades, many families have been denied justice by government’s, paramilitaries and political parties. Although we have travelled a long way from the dark days of the troubles, it was important listen to the personal and emotional stories of miscarriage of justice. The evening highlighted the need to continue campaigning for justice and truth. These families of innocent victims need to get justice and truth. We must continue to give hope to these families.”

  • gareth mccord

    when are the people who set up these talk shops and those who take part going to realise they are wasting their breathe. justice will only be served by their hands not their mouths.

  • paddy

    what is raymond mc cord attending these meetings for people arnt getting the real story here his son was a member of mountvernon u v f hardly an innocent victim

  • Conall – I previously blogged on a precursor of this meeting, held as a well-attended fringe at the SDLP conference back in January: ‘Please, please pray that we will get justice’

    There are links to some of their stories for those who need background.

  • aquifer

    Good for them. Too often we have people talking like Vics who are clearly also part of the Perps.

  • gareth mccord

    i agree paddy? but he was not a member but nonetheless he should not be at the meetings and out getting justice by the only way that will serve it. you should attend the next meeting raymond mccord is at and put your accusation to him. Then maybe you can prove wrong what david ervine and bunter graham and the police say that he was not a member.

  • Interested

    Conall, what precisely is the SDLP now defining as an “innocent” victim? And what other types of victims are there? It certainly suggests you lot believe there were “guilty victims” – feel free to elaborate. If so, who?

  • susie

    since when did Amnesty get involved in local “justice” matters. disgracefully one sided and party political. what about ALL the victims?

  • brenda hughes

    The SDLP is coming very late to the victims debate,to promote selfish party interests.

    Shame on you, Conall McDevitt. Who are you to decide who is an innocent victim? Where were you during the worst days of the troubles? Trying to promote your own profile on the backs of victims families is disgusting. Shame.

  • Susie, Amnesty has been involved in NI ‘justice matters’ for decades. See this Amnesty International Report from 1971 on ‘Allegations of Ill-Treatment Made by Persons Arrested Under The Special Powers Act’.

    As for the January 2009 event, it wasn’t ours, but I blogged it because I was at the SDLP conference in a lobbying capacity. The event I blogged featured victims of loyalists, republicans and state – hardly “one-sided”.

  • granni trixie

    Patrick: you know that that is a downright lie – Amnesty was not involved in justice issues in NI for decades,offering the excuse of their home made rule that Amnesty cannot campaign in its own country. Lo and behold ceasefires and Amnesty wants to campaign on domestic violence etc. But Amnesty was wanting during the troubles many believe for political reasons. Refusiing to join in breaking the silence or even acknowledge that punishmnent beatings and exiling were an unjust/breach of HR is the best example of this.

    So you would be better served Patrick in concentrating on Amnesty’s works beyond NI.

  • Granni, I refer you to the 1971 Amnesty report to which I previously linked.

  • JoMax

    Brenda Hughes/’Truth seeker’
    You are disgusting people, trolls seeking to spew mud any anywhere. As John Hume sais, if the Provos can murder and maim and rob and extort they can tell lies and character-assassinate.

    I know that from his mid-twenties Alex Attwood and other members of the SDLP were deeply involved with groups like the United Camaoign Against Plastic Bullets.

    John Hume, Joe Hendron and others fought for the Burmingham Six and the Woolwich Four when the gutless cowards whom you supported-the Provo IRA-didn’t have the courage to come clean and were prepared to let innocent men rot in jails for decades.

    Provos killed babies in their prams and hospital workers.

    People like Gerry Conlon and Paddy Hill acknowledge what SDLP did for the. Do you think that they would have anything to do with Sinn Fein?

    Wait till Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes speaks from the grave in his forthcoming book, which Connolly House is going frantic about.

    Fact: the Provos and their ilk killed 60% of all victims in the troubles.

    And, yes, there is a ‘hierarchy of victims’, which Adams denies. There is a a difference between a victim and a perpetrator. The Shankill bomber, Sean Begley, was no victim.

  • brendan,belfast

    To ‘truth seeker’ – maybe you dont remember SDLP / Joe Hendron led campaigns for the release of Patrick Kane, for proper investigations into the muder by Paras of Karen Reilly, of the squalid circumstances of the murder of Philomena Hanna or of many other issues throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

    But that wouldn’t suit your agenda, would it?

  • Danny O’Connor

    First,at a time when policing and justice is at the forefront of the current political situation,it is entirely appropriate to widen this debate out.
    Second ,the SDLP have always supported the right to life ,unlike others who openly supported those who were taking life.
    Thirdly, Amnesty have bottled it with their support for abortion,consequently they have lost all credibility when it comes to upholding human rights-when they are prepared to deny the most vulnerable that right.

  • granni trixie

    OK Patrick – hang on to that but you must know in your heart that I have pointed to a blot in the landscape of Amnesty’s reputation. Unfortunate but true. To me punishment beatings and exiling is a touchstone and many have been found wanting. ‘They came for the Jews’…remember?

  • Granni, here’s a link to the 1995 AI annual report entry for the UK.

    It includes various references to so-called ‘punishment attacks’ by both loyalist and republican paramilitaries. I can’t find earlier annual reports online.

  • granni trixie

    Patrick:I am familiar with the background to how Amnesty was pressurised into making that statement you refer to in the 95 Report. In 71 wasn’t it Pat Arrowwmith and London Amnesty who brought out the other report you quote and Amnesty NI was set up in 81 since when it has been virtually irrelevant in the context of NI,albeit active on worldwide issues.

    The best strategy for you and Amnesty NI to adopt at this stage would be to learn lessons, hold your hands up and acknowledge that they got it wrong in NI not portray yourselves as working here “for decades” a version which is simply not sustainable.

    Or lets just agree to differ on the narrative of Amnesty in NI.

  • Yes, okay, let’s differ if you like! There’s no such thing as Amnesty NI as a separate entity. We are part of a worldwide movement of 2.5 million members, established in 1961, that’s been active on NI human rights issues for a long time. Of course, the primary (but not the sole) focus of our members here, as elsewhere in the world, is on international campaigning against human rights abuses worldwide, not as a local pressure group on local issues. Feel free to criticise us for this if you like.

  • Brit

    I dont criticise Amnesty for its international / global focus but I do criticise it for spending a disproportionate and inappropriate amount of energy/time on the human rights abuses of Western / democratic nations (particularly the ‘devils’ of much of the liberal-left Israel and the USA) rather than the more serious and systematic human rights abusers outside tof the democratic family of nations

  • Maeglin

    I welcome these comments by the SDLP but I think the time has come for them to stand up for innocent victims – the fact is the victims of the shankil butchers DO have the right to call themselves victims, the perpetrators do not. The victims of the shankil bomb DO have the right to call themselves victims, the shankil bomber does not. The fact that Sinn Fein and the IRA try and make out they are victims and take money from the very people who suffered or were bereaved is disgusting.

    The SDLP should, at the very least support the moves to exclude the likes of the shankil bomber etc from the definition of victim. Those who murder the innocent for political gain are NOT VICTIMS.

  • Rory Carr

    I see, Brit, that you are not too happy about any light being shone into your own dark and dirty corners. Perfectly understandable, what guilty party would?

    It is a just and conscientious man who insures first that his own house is clean before he offers to help his neighbour to clean his don’t you think?

    It is he who has something to hide however who constantly points to the faults of others that his own shortcomings may remain in obscurity beyond the judgement of others.

    Besides the very notion that Amnesty International spends “a disproportionate and inappropriate amount of energy/time on the human rights abuses of Western / democratic nations” is patently untrue, indeed criticism of Amnesty is more often focused on its reluctance to investigate abuses by Western governments if anything.

    I take it you are not happy that any such investigation should take place and that activities such as kidnapping, rape, torture, rendition and murder carried out by Western governments should be blithely ignored because if they are doing it, it must be OK. But since Brit would never support the use of such barbarism it follows that it cannot possibly be true therefore there is no need to investigate any allegations.

    That about it sum it up, Brit?

  • Brit

    Rory – you havent summed up my views accurately, you have totally mispresented them on the basis of assumptions that have no basis in what I actually wrote.

    I strongly believe that human rights abuses by all nations should be exposed, challenged and condemed. Including those in or by Israel, the US and Britain.

    As to the substantive allegation of disproportionate coverage I quote from Wikipedia:

    “AI reports disproportionately on relatively more democratic and open countries,[28] arguing that its intention is not to produce a range of reports which statistically represents the world’s human rights abuses, but rather to apply the pressure of public opinion to encourage improvements. The demonstration effect of the behavior of both key Western government and major non-Western states is an important factor: as one former AI Secretary-General pointed out, “…for many countries and a large number of people, the United States is a model,” and according to one AI manager, “large countries in?uence small countries.”[4] In addition, with the end of the Cold War, AI felt that a greater emphasis on human rights in the North was needed to improve its credibility with its Southern critics by demonstrating its willingness to report on human rights issues in a truly global manner.[4]

    According to one academic study, as a result of these considerations the frequency of AI’s reports is influenced by a number of factors, besides the frequency and severity of human rights abuses. For example, AI reports significantly more (than predicted by human rights abuses) on more economically powerful states; and on countries which receive US military aid, on the basis that this Western complicity in abuses increases the likelihood of public pressure being able to make a difference.[4] In addition, around 1993/4, AI consciously developed its media relations, producing fewer background reports and more press releases, to increase the impact of its reports. Press releases are partly driven by news coverage, to use existing news coverage as leverage to discuss AI’s human rights concerns. This increases AI’s focus on the countries the media is more interested in.[4]”

  • gareth mccord

    again the people on here only care about political point scoring!! when will people realise that the underlying message or reason or struggle that alot of families have and deserve is JUSTICE and the truth.
    if a man or woman is carrying out or planning an attack of murder and mayhem and is killed in doing so then any right thinking human would say they got what they deserved.they are not victims but of there own accord combatants.
    but those who were murdered to protect informers those who were killed through illegal and immoral ways by those who are meant to uphold the law are victims.
    why do people slag of S.D.L.P. as i can only say they have no mass blood on there hands and dont hold the keys to many suffering families who seek truth and justice. unlike s.f/i.r.a.!!
    why do the majority of catholics vote for a party that has no meaning of the word justice and truth for ALL. why do the catholic community only shout about brits and not what the likes of scap and the fisherman?? a brave man or woman is only brave if they open both eyes not one.
    imagine s.f. marching for the truth and justice and like so for the unionist and loyalist politicians. we all know they ignore their own neighbours and friends but claim they have stood up to the enemy. I have to say the enemy has always been within and always will be.
    We should only vote and keep ANY politician who has both eyes open be it S.D.L.P. or alliance or the greens but certainly not the usual suspects.

  • Brenda Hughes


    How dare you suggest that i am a disgusting troll. I don’t hide behind the cloak of a pseudonym, unlike yourself. I am entitled to an opinion, like anyone else, and as someone who has first hand experience of suffering over the last 20 years, i believe my point was valid. You seem to jump to Conalls defence everytime someone suggests that his anaylsis is somehow connected to his party political ambitions. Step out the shadows.

  • slug

    who were the Woolwich four??