Are some victims campaigns more acceptable than others?

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Never one to pull his punches, in today’s Irish News Newton Emerson gets down to asking an important question of Relatives for Justice, the director of which Mark Thompson has written:

The bill is a direct consequence of the failure to independently deal with the past in an inclusive and holistic way and as such should not be progressed in isolation to a wider process of inclusive truth recovery. Ideally this issue should be the opportunity to now convene meaningful and substantive discussions on how best we deal with the past.

It’s very hard to disagree with that statement. And indeed RFJ does a lot of important work not just campaigning but supporting for the victims of state violence. But the inconsistency Emerson notes here boils down to the depiction of activism though the legislature as somehow out of bounds of that holistic approach, and activism through the courts, the police ombudsman, the coroner, pressure for international intervention etc as firmly in.

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  • GavBelfast

    About time someone called them on their convoluted double-speak on a range of issues.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘The bill is a direct consequence of the failure to independently deal with the past in an inclusive and holistic way and as such should not be progressed in isolation to a wider process of inclusive truth recovery. Ideally this issue should be the opportunity to now convene meaningful and substantive discussions on how best we deal with the past.’

    He could make a start by trying to express himself more ‘meaningfully’.

  • Old Mortality

    Oh and RFJ’s promotion of individual campaigns to which Newton refers might well reflect the interests of their principal donors.

  • son of sam

    Who are their principal donors?

  • Barnshee

    “Who are their principal donors?”

    You are via various “peace funding” which translate into well paid jobs in fronts for political activists with all employees exclusively from rhe prod or roman catholic community as appropriate

    The Relatives ” one is a typical example On its original web presence the link to victims of “republicans” never worked– any attempt to link to this “branch” of victims produced a “hung” page which never opened.

    The new web page makes no such pretence at inclusion-
    http://relativesforjustice.com/?page_id=451 and has a focus on events affecting one side of the community creating “squares in a quilt” to remember “victims”

    The dead include IRA members blown up by their own bombs or killed ion “active service” and “individuals mistaken by the IRA for a member of the British army. ”

    Not sure how public funding to these and similar ones on the loyalist side fits in with Equality Legislation. Anybody know?

  • GavBelfast

    I wonder has anyone brought such issues to the eyes of granting bodies which are subject to “equality legislation”?

    (Of course, would be even better to be reassured that such bodies always already did so themselves ….)

  • iluvni

    Haven’t had a good look through the new RFJ website yet, but I wonder if the old one was ever updated. The listings of victims of Loyalist and ‘State’ violence was a chilling reminder of the horror of the Troubles….the section for those who died at the hands of Republicans was always empty every time I had a look.
    Hierarchy of victims writ large.

  • babyface finlayson

    Barnshee
    A look at the remembering quilts does appear to show very few relating to IRA killings.A token few from what I can see.
    Maybe they are a mirror image of Willie Frazer’s FAIR campaign or is that a bit unfair.

  • Barnshee

    “And indeed RFJ does a lot of important work not just campaigning but supporting for the victims of state violence”

    Not sure how being “Accidently shot by the IRA”. or blown up prematurely by your own bomb makes you a victim of state violence

  • Barnshee

    “Maybe they are a mirror image of Willie Frazer’s FAIR campaign or is that a bit unfair.”

    Same game in town —tho I don`t know how “Wullie” gets funded

  • Comrade Stalin

    Willie Tazer’s FAIR *was* getting funded through OFMDFM and European sources, until they cancelled the funding, supposedly on the basis that the money was being used to fund political campaigning (which is against the rules).

  • Comrade Stalin

    The point about the hypocrisy of our politicians is well made. Mitchell McLoughlin referred on the radio earlier this week to the fact that no British soldiers were punished for their role in Bloody Sunday and that they were allowed to continue serving in the army. True, so .. what exactly is SF’s policy on combatants being allowed to continue in the pay of the state, especially where the victims were, in their terminology, non-combatants ?

  • tacapall

    “Are some victims campaigns more acceptable than others”

    Obviously there are –

    “A British soldier convicted of murdering a Belfast teenager has been discharged from the army after being shot in Iraq.

    However, the family of Peter McBride have been angered after claims that Scots Guard Mark Wright did not regret firing the fatal shots which killed him.

    In September 1992 Wright and James Fisher were sentenced to life in prison for shooting the 18-year-old in the back as he ran away from a foot patrol near his north Belfast home.

    The soldiers were found to have lied under oath after claiming they thought he had been carrying a bomb, despite having searched him minutes before he was shot.

    However, they were freed three years later and allowed to return to their regiment. It emerged they had received full army pay while in jail.

    “Mark says even if he had been more experienced he would have made the same decision.”

    “Over 50 Westminster MPs are backing moves being undertaken by the SDLP to have the two Scottish soldiers convicted of murdering Belfast teenager Peter McBride thirteen years ago thrown out of the army”

    How many Unionist MPs backed this petition ? The hypocrisy of “Ann’s Law” allows the murderer above become a special adviser, where is Peter’s law ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    tacapall

    “…where is Peter’s law?”

    Fine, reduce it to 3 years or whatever it is that will incidentally make sure that some British soldiers also can’t get special advisor positions in Stormont.

    I’m sure SF wouldn’t have any problems with this nose-cutting, face-spiting measure…

  • Old Mortality

    Barnshee
    “Who are their principal donors?”
    ‘You are via various “peace funding” which translate into well paid jobs in fronts for political activists with all employees exclusively from rhe prod or roman catholic community as appropriate.

    Are you sure about this. I would have expected that those who might gain a pecuniary advantage from RFJ’s activities would be decent enough to make a contribution. Still from you and I, obviously, although by a more indirect route.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Fine, reduce it to 3 years or whatever it is that will incidentally make sure that some British soldiers also can’t get special advisor positions in Stormont.

    Is the sum total of the retribution to be handed down to actors in the conflict the denial of a SpAD role in Stormont ?

  • A Hierarchy of Victims is closely related to a Hierarchy of Death..
    I am one of the older folks who contribute here…61 years old. And I have heard too many radio news bulletins begin with the words…”Reports are coming in…”
    There is a coping mechanism. I suppose people are different. But the knowledge that only a small percentageof the deaths were “that could have been me”. I was not a combatant for RUC or Republicans. I was not an informer. I could have been a random sectarian assassination or the victim of crossfire or could have been a hobbyist such as the dog owners enjoying a dinner at La Mon.
    And Im sure people who lived in the relative tranquility of say Donaghadee felt thank God I dont live on Falls or Shankill.
    But its not just a hierarchy of involvent. Its a hierarchy of ” they are just like us” and some victims…say Alan McBride, Joyce McCartan, The McCartney Sisters, Gordon Wilson present themselves well. Others dont.
    I have no idea what kinda victims campaigner I would have been. Articulate certainly and like a dog with a bone if one of mine was killed or hurt. But I dont know if Id be “heroic” or “petty”
    There are two kinds.
    At least two.
    I was genuinely shocked at a Platform for Change meeting two years ago. Victims told their story in the form of monolgues and at the end a member of the largely middle class audience said ” I had no idea”.

    Victims have been screaming their stories…campaigning for decades…McGurks, Claudy, Ballymurphy to name but some. But the problem is not about giving victims a voice,…Im tired of that cliche.
    The real challenge is to give EARS to people who have not been victims.
    In some way, all of us are dismissive of at least one campaign…not necessarily on a “themmuns” basis. Just as often its ” not him again!”
    Or “give over luv…we are all victims”

    Are we all victims? I dont necessarily think we are. But theres a helluva lot of survivors. And in essence that was the group which sank the Eames-Bradley initiative. What SHOULD have been a slam dunk committee was laughed out of court by the crass headline proposal.
    We cant unwind that clock.
    But if we all knew then early 1970s what we gradually found out from the mid 1970s then 1980s 1990s that the damage to our cars, liberties, bodies, homes carried a price tag in compensation….then we would all have been phoning those lawyers on the TV adverts.

    Frankly early victims are not to pleased withthe compensation culture that later victims were able to enjoy. But surely all of us were low level victims. Even I had a gun shoved in my mouth and threatened by the Stickies. Whats the price tag on that?

    Giving £30,000 to every victim …that proposal was crass.
    So heres another.
    Give £100 to every for every year they lived as an adult between
    1969-1998 and £50 as a child. Would it be worthwhile? Can anybody work out how much it would be? And on the condition we all just give over and get on…..put it to a referendum and people would say YES.

  • News_Meister

    The RFJ (Nationalist) and FAIR (Unionist) groups are/were much of an ilk; each highlighting incidents that affected their community.

    Judges daughter Ann Travers has contended, it’s acceptable former terrorists receive a state paid salary if the public elected them to their role – how does this fit with the fact killers re-employed by the security forces were not so (re-)elected?

  • Andree

    The courts and current processes are individualistic in nature and design. Families have no choice other than to present their cases in individualistic frameworks. Indeed they are in the middle of those processes not out of choice but as part of the criminal justice framework. Portraying this as legalistic activism is a fundamental misunderstanding of the position is which families are placed.

    Consistently the failing of individual investigation is the failure to place individual harms in policy and societal frameworks. Families identify this all the time. So there are dual needs for families – to look at the harms incurred on their loved ones in individual ways, but to then place that in broader frameworks – e.g. individual evidence of collusion in an individual killing being established, or at least the questions identified, and then how that is relevant to the wider policy and practices, and questions of responsibility and accountability.

    A broader truth recovery mechanism could be designed to deliver both. Current processes are not designed to.

    It is a pity that the issues raised are perceived negatively rather than being seen for what they are – a contribution to the wider discussion on the need to build a process to which ALL victims of the conflict, affected by the actions of ALL actors can participate equally,

    Whether that be the courageous and dignified Ann Travers, sister of Mary Travers, killed by the IRA or the courageous and dignified Teresa Slane, widow of Gerard Slane killed by the UFF, or the courageous and dignified Briege Voyle, daughter of Joan Connolly killed by the British army. All women affected by the conflict. All affected differently by the conflict. All with similar experiences. All engaged in individualistic processes. All deserving of attention, voice and participation in broader societal processes. We all will benefit from learning from all victims on an equal basis. No caveats. No ifs. No buts. No sour or negative spin.

  • @News_Meister

    “…how does this fit with the fact killers re-employed by the security forces were not so (re-)elected?”

    It is most likely that the British politicians did not feel that they could afford to take on the army when it was protecting its own, as they were needed during the Cold War for the defense of Germany and afterwards for other missions. My own experience as serving with the American Army in Bosnia was that the U.S. Army brass was not happy with the assignment and so made “force protection” its number one mission to the detriment of achieving any political objectives. Armies in democracies don’t get to choose their missions, at most they get input into how achievable the political goals of the political masters are through military means.

    I’m sure many victims of paramilitary violence, nationalists as well as unionists, are not happy with the fact that former paramilitary leaders or “activists” are now serving in the Assembly or on councils. Their attitudes probably vary from seeing this as either something that is beyond their control to a necessary evil. You may have to look at soldiers who are convicted of wrongful shootings and continued to serve as a necessary evil.

  • Mick Fealty

    NM,

    Might be useful to get a legal opinion on that? (Legal compliant details might be useful too?)

  • tacapall

    “Might be useful to get a legal opinion on that? (Legal compliant details might be useful too”

    “A Belfast court ordered the Ministry of Defence and then Armed Forces Minister John Spellar to reconsider the original decision to retain the two guardsmen. As a result a second Army Board was appointed chaired by Armed Forces Minister John Spellar. In October 2000, while the Board deliberated on the case, Fisher was promoted. A month later, in November 2000 it was announced that the second Army Board had again decided that Wright and Fisher could remain in the British Army. The final meeting of the Board was held on 8th November, several weeks after the promotion. This promotion was clearly an attempt to subvert a court ruling that had overturned the original Army Board decision in favour of the guardsmen. It is also clear that the MoD, while John Spellar was Armed Forces Minister, withheld the fact of this promotion and more importantly the timing, from the legal team representing Jean McBride and sought to exert improper influence on the Army Board.”
    .

  • Mick Fealty

    Andree,

    It is activism, and all the more welcome for it. No one should let the state rest on it laurels, ever. Or stop questioning its motives. Activism is a good thing. Honestly, I meant there to be no negative connotations to be read therein.

    I do endorse your other statements wholeheartedly and without exception. Ms Travers, I trust, has scored a hit, and a very palpable hit. I don’t see why others cannot see some encouragement here?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    CS

    “Is the sum total of the retribution to be handed down to actors in the conflict the denial of a SpAD role in Stormont ?”

    Nope.

  • ‘Why does this not apply to RFJ’s individual campaigns?’

    How insanely disingenuous and also a pretty cheap shot. It would be akin to me saying that the CBI’s opinion on matters is invalid as it doesn’t campaign for union matters too, just for one side of an issue or a particular interest group, it’s actual nonsense and is akin to man playing rather than tackling the issue and what the RFJ has said which is a fair point, this issue is only dealing with one set of victims.

  • News_Meister

    Mick,
    If the SPAD Bill is enacted and Sinn Fein mount a legal challenge, IMO a Court properly directing itself must have regard the fact Stormont knew its SPAD law would target only Sinn Fein as there isn’t any equivalent Loyalist ex-prisoner party operating within Stormont – I envisage Mr Kavanagh bringing claims of unfair dismissal and breach of contract but more importantly claims of direct and/or indirect discrimination with regard to his protected status as Irish, Catholic and a Republican…

    GFA Intent:
    To enact any legislation intended to restrict employment opportunities of those convicted in connection with the N.I conflict is in my view contrary to the spirit and wording of the GFA – is it not the case the GFA expressly provides for a mechanism to promote their employment prospects?

    Jurisdiction:
    Notwithstanding the above and not forgetting the existence of the Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act 1974, if one sought to impose greater restrictions on the employment prospects of convicted paramilitary and state offenders alike such would require enactment of laws in the 3 jurisdictions i.e. UK, RoI and N.I – was such not incorporated into the GFA by design or accident?

    Anti-Discrimination:
    EU member states are entitled to apply a ‘margin of appreciation’ when legislating for a legitimate ‘public policy aim’ but a ream of caselaw proves they’ve often failed to properly consider ‘proportionality of the aim’ verses ‘direct and/or indirect discriminatory impact’ against one or more protected groups – who can mount a sustainable argument to counter the claim that the SPAD Bill is intended to target a particular political party containing members of clearly defined and protected classes of people?

  • Barnshee

    “RFJ has said which is a fair point, this issue is only dealing with one set of victims.”

    It would be a fair point if RFJ dealt with all victims -RFJ defines and only deals with one set of victims as they define it.

  • Barnshee

    GFA Intent:
    To enact any legislation intended to restrict employment opportunities of those convicted in connection with the N.I conflict is in my view contrary to the spirit and wording of the GFA – is it not the case the GFA expressly provides for a mechanism to promote their employment prospects?

    No

  • Barnshee,

    You’re actually missing the point. You are basically trying to discredit an organisation due to the narrowness of who it represents rather than tackle the point it made, that is playing the man and not the ball.

    Also, it is nonsense to disbar an organisation and its opinions from being valid for the fact that they deliberately only identify with a certain section, it would be akin (again) to me saying that the CBI’s opinions on workers’ rights is not a fair point as they only represent business owners and not workers when clearly they have a stake in the whole debate.

  • Barnshee

    “You’re actually missing the point. You are basically trying to discredit an organisation due to the narrowness of who it represents rather than tackle the point it made, that is playing the man and not the ball.”

    Discredited ? A wholly sectarian organisation which is funded by the taxpayer?

    1 RFJ at commencement claimed to include victims of Republicanism/IRA — for funding reasons ? These victims never appeared on its website despite a clear link to an “alleged” page which never opened

    2 The claptrap about “legislative framework” is straight from SF`s hymn sheet

    3 RFJ includes in its records of “victims of the state” individuals “shot by mistake by the IRA” and IRA members blown up by their own bombs. I am at at a loss to reconcile these as “victims of the state”

    The near panic in Republic circles is understandable– a simple headcount of the dead and injured not to mention traumatised will show the IRA “league leaders” in creating “victims”. Hence the “no hierarchy of victims” bleat

    You CBI analogy fails The CBI would have to start off purporting to represent both Management and workers and then having secured the appropriate funds ignore the workers

  • Let’s go over it again and I hope you actually have an ability for English comprehension as you are not ACTUALLY TACKLING WHAT THEY SAID, you are playing the man, not the ball, again…

    ‘1 RFJ at commencement claimed to include victims of Republicanism/IRA — for funding reasons ? These victims never appeared on its website despite a clear link to an “alleged” page which never opened’

    And this discredits what they have actually said? I’m waiting for you to actually challenge what they have said, let’s see if you do later on…

    ‘2 The claptrap about “legislative framework” is straight from SF`s hymn sheet’

    So? Oh wait, SF is not allowed a mandate and people who happen to agree with them lose all kinds of credibility. Again, you will actually challenge the substance of what they said? Shall we see…

    ‘3 RFJ includes in its records of “victims of the state” individuals “shot by mistake by the IRA” and IRA members blown up by their own bombs. I am at at a loss to reconcile these as “victims of the state”’

    Nope, you haven’t actually challenged what they said about the whole matter, you’ve went for the ball and not the man, yet again.

    ‘The near panic in Republic circles is understandable– a simple headcount of the dead and injured not to mention traumatised will show the IRA “league leaders” in creating “victims”. Hence the “no hierarchy of victims” bleat’

    Panic? Please, more anger. I’m looking forward to your suggestions on how we bring state actors who not only killed nationalists without meeting the full force of the law but were actually sheltered by the state and how the current Spad bill actually can be seen to treat ALL victims of violence in the North in a fair and equitable manner.

    ‘You CBI analogy fails The CBI would have to start off purporting to represent both Management and workers and then having secured the appropriate funds ignore the workers’

    You keep walking that line Barnshee, but lets look at their mission statement and then you can of course tell me how what they do would not benefit both sides of the community:

    ‘To provide appropriate therapeutic and developmental based support for the bereaved and injured of the conflict within a safe environment. To examine and develop transitional justice and truth recovery mechanisms assisting with individual healing, contributing to positive societal change, ensuring the effective promotion and protection of human rights, social justice, and reconciliation in the context of an emerging participative democracy post conflict’

    Let me guess, like Jim Al, victims of state forces are children of a lesser god, ay B?

  • Also Barnshee, apologies for another post, however, if you’re not actually going to answer the substance of my point made and I can expect more of you attacking the man and not playing the ball then I wouldn’t bother posting for I will not be engaging you.

  • Barnshee

    “‘To provide appropriate therapeutic and developmental based support for the bereaved and injured of the conflict within a safe environment. To examine and develop transitional justice and truth recovery mechanisms assisting with individual healing, contributing to positive societal change, ensuring the effective promotion and protection of human rights, social justice, and reconciliation in the context of an emerging participative democracy post conflict’

    Highly laudable —-where are the “squares” for the victims of republican violence and the associated ?

    “Let me guess, like Jim Al, victims of state forces are children of a lesser god, ay B?”

    Under no circumstances —perpetrators of of state violence should be pursued ruthlessly -the case for victims is not helped by being bundled along with the perpetrators.

    Repeats

    RFJ includes in its records of “victims of the state” individuals “shot by mistake by the IRA” and IRA members blown up by their own bombs. I am at at a loss to reconcile these as “victims of the state”

    I have no objection should RFJ relabel itself as Some Relatives for justice (SRMJ)or Roman Catholic Relatives for justice ( RCRFJ) to reflect reality. I do of course stand to be corrected shouls RFJ provide the detail of their “support for the bereaved and injured of the conflict within a safe environment” in the Protestant communiity.

    My “charge “against RFJ is one of hypocracy, RFJ an organisation that excludes a section of the community claims that the an act is not inclusive

    “Oh wait, SF is not allowed a mandate and people who happen to agree with them lose all kinds of credibility. Again, you will actually challenge the substance of what they said? Shall we see…”

    I totally respect SFs mandate.

    RFJ is a PUBLICLY funded organisation -the use of funds for political purposes is forbidden loss of funds Close association with any political process leaves any organisation subject to examination and comment.

  • cynic2

    Ah News_Meister I detect that you have been influenced by a strong dose of legal consultation down the Armalite and Ballot Box by a ‘human rights lawyer (TM)’ down on his / her luck and desperate for a chance to sue someone

    First, if the Assembly passes a Bill its law. The courts implement law they don’t overrule the legislature unless they consider the law breaches ECHR. Any court action reasonably will almost certainly conclude that this was a case of a democratic decision by the Assembly

    Second I am delighted you invoke the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Sadly when you quote law its usually good to quote the right one. Try the 1978 Order for NI Legislation and especially Article 6 which says that sentences of life imprisonment are excluded from rehabilitation ie mass murderers don’t get rehabilitated in law.

    You then hold that the act is contrary to the spirit of the GFA. The GFA is an agreement not a law and your opinion on its is worth diddly squat – which is slightly more than trying to mount a challenge on that basis is worth.

    As for the proportionality argument just try telling a court – any court – that its not proportionate to exclude unrepentant murderers from such a post and listen to the laughter .

    So overall if you want to take this one I strongly suggest you look for a lawyer willing to work on a no win no fee basis. Their response will tell you far more than the legal advises you get could ever do,