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A Chathaoirligh, a dhaoine uaisle, is mór an phribhléid dúinne, lucht feachtais um lorg fírinne agus gaolta ar son na cóire bheith i láthair ag an bhFóram agus bheirmid buíochas daoibh as an fhaill seo a thabhairt dúinn labhairt.
Madam Chairperson and members of the Forum, Thank you for the privilege of addressing the Forum as Chairperson of Relatives For Justice and Chairperson of the Campaign for the Right to Truth. This Campaign is an umbrella group of eight organisations. There are six speakers on this panel and there are some 30 members present at the Forum. You will meet many of them informally and hear their stories. We are happy that you are willing to listen to poor, humble and vulnerable people who have suffered at the hands of the state in the past 25 years. You will have heard, and doubtlessly will hear more testimonies from victims and their relatives who have suffered grievously at the hands of the paramilitaries. We sympathise with these victims and encourage you to do all you can for them. Today we are focusing narrowly on a section of people, victims and their relatives who feel they have been neglected and ignored. The ghetto poor have to a great extent been a voiceless people—although they can be eloquent—voiceless because they are without power. Government officials, religious people and academics were not always willing to listen to them, and so their lack of human rights and civil rights and justice went unredressed. They found it difficult to get their story told.
The people represented here, Madam Chairperson, have been the victims of the corruption of law. Such a problem is worldwide. We are focusing here on Northern Ireland and Britain but we have also a speaker here to challenge governments and politicians in the Republic of Ireland whose silence on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is as deafening as the explosions themselves. The agents of the law in Northern Ireland and Britain, people in charge of the law, have violated the law to use it as a weapon to torture men in interrogation centres, to send some innocent people to jail for life, to kill and injure civilians with plastic bullets, to shoot citizens with army guns, to act in collusion over 25 years with the murderous intents of the loyalist paramilitaries. A second hurt, added to the injuries, is that the law has provided no adequate remedy for proper investigation, no truth or justice for the Relatives for Justice. Hence the appreciation of our groups to have a voice here today.
The British Government does not hold the high moral ground. Like the paramilitaries it should also acknowledge and repent for its crimes, the deaths and suffering of innocent people it has caused. Truth helps a peace process and has healing effects. Justice and charity flow from it. Our submission to the Forum outlined 16 classifications of the violations of human rights.
The headings are:
It was on the 4th November 1971 and the British Army was in the district raiding houses. It was in the early hours of the morning, which was the normal time when they raided houses. All my children had to be taken from their beds and as I'm the mother of 11 children, the youngest at the time was 5 years of age. It was very annoying and upsetting for the children to sit and watch the British Army ransack their home and pull everything apart.
They had been arresting some men in the street and one of those arrested was a neighbour of mine. He was the father of 4 young children and his wife was in a very distressed state. I left my house and went to comfort her. I made some tea, got the children dressed and gave her a tablet to try and settle her down. I tried to assure her that her husband would only be held a few hours. As it turned out he was held for several years. I heard someone shout that the paratroopers were coming into the district so I returned to my home. Everyone in the area was put under house arrest which meant a soldier was put in every doorway and no one was allowed in or out. The paratroopers were in a very aggressive mood and were pulling young men and boys from their homes, some in just their bare feet, some with just their shirts and trousers on.
I had pulled up my venetian blind and was looking out the window and
what I saw was very frustrating. I didn't know whether to scream
or cry. The very last thing I ever saw was a young man having his head
banged off a Saracen. I told my teenage daughter,
sake, put on a record to boost our morale. She put on
Green Fields and it had only been playing a few minutes when a
paratrooper stepped in front of my window and fired directly into my
face. This happened in front of my children who were by this time in
hysterics. I was later told my face was in a terrible state and the
blood was everywhere. My husband threw a towel over my face and tried
to get me out to the car to get me to hospital. One of my neighbours
from across the street ran out to help and the soldiers threatened to
shoot him. He told them to go ahead but was going to help me no matter
what. They at first refused to let us leave the district but my
husband pulled the towel away to show the terrible injuries and they
finally let us go.
At the hospital my eyes were so badly damaged they had to be removed. I now wear artificial eyes and had to receive plastic surgery to build up the bridge of my nose. After my eyes were removed, my family couldn't bring themselves to tell me I would never see again. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was in Belfast at that time and it was her who came to my bedside and told me my eyes had been removed. I went into very deep depression and just wanted to die for when you are the mother of 11 children and a very active person it was very hard to accept.
I was taken home and remained in my bedroom for a very long time. My oldest daughter was taken out of school and had to be mother and housekeeper to the rest of the family. Eventually, after a lot of help and prayers, I realised I would have to come to terms with my blindness. It was very hard. I missed seeing the children's faces and the colour of the trees and flowers and going out for walks doing the shopping.
The rubber bullet which had shot me was then replaced with the plastic bullet and many children were being killed and injured. I decided I would have to get involved in trying to have these lethal weapons banned, so I joined the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets. With other members I have travelled the world to tell people my story and enlist their support in our campaign. I received compensation for my injuries but to this day I couldn't tell you the name of the soldier who shot me. He was never prosecuted and I never received the justice I desperately wanted, for him to appear in court and tell me why he shattered my life that day.
To date 17 people have been killed with rubber and plastic bullets, 8 of them school children and hundreds more severely injured. Over 31,000,000 has been paid out in compensation but only one member of the security forces has ever been charged in connection with the deaths and injuries and he was acquitted.
Plastic bullets are still being used in Northern Ireland and have been fired on several occasions since the cease-fire.
On Sunday December 12th 1982, my brother Roddy was shot to death by R.U.C. members in Mullacreevie housing estate, Armagh, along with Seamus Grew. Both men were unarmed and were not aware that they were being followed by the R.U.C..
They had gone to Monaghan to leave my sister home from my grandfather's funeral which had taken place that day in Magherafelt, Co Derry.
The initial story put out by the R.U.C. was that Roddy and Seamus had burst through a road block and the R.U.C. had opened fire on the car after a high speed chase. The media film showed R.U.C. men searching for the guns allegedly thrown from the car during the imaginary high speed chase. Even to this day, when this killing is mentioned on the media, the R.U.C. staged search for imaginary weapons is the caption used, without stating that the media were deliberately duped.
Due to the efforts of Fr. Murray holes started to appear in the R.U.C.'s version of events. This led to an R.U.C. man being charged with the murder of Seamus Grew. During the trial the R.U.C. man, Robinson, panicked when he thought that his superiors were going to let him carry the can. In his panic he said that there was no road block. The two men had been followed into Co.Monaghan and back into Co.Armagh.
The R.U.C. hit squad, that had been waiting in Armagh since the Friday were the worse for drink, when the radio message arrived that the two victims were approaching Armagh city. It had been intended to shoot these men at Girvan's Bridge, several miles away from the actual killings on the other side of Armagh, but the R.U.C. crashed their car. Seamus and Roddy drove past as this was happening and were unaware that anything was amiss. Constable Robinson saw them and commandeered another car, drove after them, overtook them in Mullacreevie and shot both men dead.
It has been proved that Seamus Grew was out of the car with his hands
in the air when he was shot. Constable Robinson also stated at his
trial that he was briefed by his superior officers at Armagh's
Gough Barracks on what lies to tell. In any case he was acquitted of
murder. This shooting and the shooting dead by the R.U.C. in Lurgan
on November 11th 1982 of three other unarmed men, Eugene Toman, Sean
Burns and Gervaise Mc Kerr, and a fourth person, 17 year old Michael
Tighe on November 24th, led to the
Stalker Inquiry. We all know
what happened to the British detective John Stalker when he was about
to question the Chief Constable of the R.U.C., he was removed from the
The common thread that runs through these killings in Armagh and Lurgan is the meticulous planning to corner the victims and kill them, the releasing of false stories to the media and then the politicians and the legal system protecting the state killers.
It is totally unrealistic to believe that members of a police force would decide that they would go out and kill people in ambushes. And that the legal system would retrospectively sanction such deeds. These killings had to be sanctioned at the highest political level. The slickness of media manipulation and legal procedures points to a planned operation.
After Detective Sampson completed the Stalker Inquiry, the then
British Attorney General, Patrick Mayhew, stated that, the ten
R.U.C. men who had perverted the course of justice were not to be
prosecuted in the
national interest. The inquests into the
deaths of these men cannot be held properly. A number of coroners
refused to handle the inquest because of irregularities in the
papers. However, a coroner John Leckey decided that he would hold the
inquests into the six victims. He asked for the
to assist him in his inquiries. The Chief Constable of the
R.U.C. applied to the High Court to have the
withheld from the inquest and succeeded.
Mr Patrick Mayhew now as Secretary of State for the Six Counties then
stepped in again with public immunity certificates in the national
interest to prevent the release of the
Sampson Report and
exempting people involved in the killings giving evidence in person at
the inquest. In these circumstances, more than twelve years after the
killings, the coroner has proposed signing death certificates simply
to state that these people are dead.
Mr Mayhew, first as British Attorney General and then as Secretary of State, has stopped the prosecution of R.U.C. officers for perverting the course of justice, and prevented the disclosure of facts at an inquest, while telling us that he is neutral and impartial.
I contend that this man is no different than the people that pulled the trigger and in fact is more culpable in that he bends the law to facilitate such deeds. There is no accountability for state agents before the law. There is no justice. What we have is whatever the British deem to be expedient for themselves in any given situation.
It is of paramount importance that the killing of my brother, Aidan Mc Anespie, on the 21st of February 1988, is not viewed as an isolated incident but rather as the result of systematic and routine victimisation for several years by British crown forces. These include members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment and the British Army.
My brother, Aidan McAnespie, was the youngest of a family of six
children. He was born in Aughnacloy, a predominantly loyalist village
situated on the border with the Republic of Ireland. The area
historically had a high unemployment rate, that is, for those
nationalists living there. As a consequence, Aidan looked for work
across the border and was fortunate enough to get a job in a poultry
processing plant in Monaghan town, some ten miles south of
Aughnacloy. To go to work each day, Aidan had to pass through a
permanent British Army checkpoint at the southern side of the
village. As a result, the security forces became familiar with him and
often asked him to remove his car from the road for what was termed a
routine search. They would then take the car apart, removing
door panels and wheels. They would also search through his lunch with
their bare hands saying,
You'll be late for work today
Aidan. Aidan made complaints to his trade union about these
incidents who made representations on his behalf, but the harassment
continued unabated. On other occasions they would ask him to remove
his coat, shoes and socks in the rain. When he refused, they would put
him on the ground and one soldier stood on his throat while another
pulled off his shoes and socks. Aidan made complaints to his local
It was not unusual for Aidan to be taken into the British Army base
for a vehicle search two or three times a week and the car pulled
apart. The harassment got so bad that he stopped driving through the
checkpoint, instead he would drive to the filling station just south
of the checkpoint and would phone my mother. She would then cycle down
through the town and out past the checkpoint and walk back through
with Aidan. On one occasion a soldier shouted after them,
trying to protect your son Mrs McAnespie?.
Aidan contacted newspapers seeking the protection that publicity might
have given him and one national newspaper carried a story describing
him as the most harassed person in Ireland. He could have wallpapered
his room with official complaints made to the R.U.C. both through
solicitors and the local parish priest. Aidan's life evolved
around the continual threat of harassment and physical violence at
best and the real threat of being killed at worst. A soldier stopped
my father about a year before the shooting and asked,
Aidan's father?. When he said he was, the soldier said,
have a bullet here for him.
On the 21st of February 1988, Aidan parked his car at the northern side of the checkpoint and walked towards the local G.A.A. pitch, which was just south of the checkpoint. He had only walked three hundred yards when a single bullet from a heavy calibre machine gun cut him down, in the prime of his life, on a lovely sunny afternoon, while on the way to a Gaelic football match. Aidan's life was taken, his killer watched him walk towards the football pitch, aimed and fired to kill. This is the view of our family and many community and church leaders. The then Cardinal and Primate of all Ireland described the killing as murder. In stark contrast the British Army described the incident as a tragic accident. They claimed, firstly, that the gun used was being passed from one soldier to another when it was accidentally discharged. This account later changed to one of accidental discharge when the gun was in the process of being cleaned. Because the Northern Ireland Office's statement of what happened supported this version, all subsequent investigations carried out by the R.U.C. was mobilised to support this explanation of events. In actual fact, the security force explanation was so incredible that they had to create evidence to support their claim. For example, eye witnesses saw a man coming out of a sanger from which Aidan was shot, wearing casual clothes and sports shoes. The next day the army had a number of their people painting the checkpoint in casual clothing. Aidan's car was parked close to the checkpoint in a nationalist housing estate. On the day of the funeral eye witnesses saw a man remove it. Our family phoned the local R.U.C. station to report it missing. They said that they knew nothing about it but to try C.I.D. in Dungannon. C.I.D. in Dungannon were not aware of the missing car, we then phoned the local police to report the stolen car. The press got to hear about the missing car and shortly after speaking to the police a local journalist could tell the family that the car was removed by the police for its safety. It seems incredible that of all the cars parked in the housing estate this was the only car in some kind of danger.
In addition, the army claimed, that due to the accidental discharge of the weapon three shots were fired, one of which ricocheted off the road hitting Aidan. Local people living nearby say the army reconstructed this account of things when, as darkness fell, a flashing light was placed at the spot where Aidan was shot and three shots were heard to be fired. It is widely believed that the army fired the shots to mark the road to support their ricochet theory. When challenged by the press, the army claimed that they came under fire from terrorists, a claim denied by the I.R.A. and local people nearby who say no attack of the kind took place.
A soldier, David J. Holden, was charged with unlawful killing. While on this charge he was allowed to go home to his family in England. Approximately six months later all charges were dropped.
At Aidan's inquest, the coroner, Roger Mc Lernon, said the death
was a cause of
profound regret and was
avoidable and should
have been avoided. The R.U.C. stated at the inquest and it was
repeated by the coroner, that there was no suggestion that Aidan had
ever been involved in any form of illegal activity. Guardsman Holden
was not compelled to attend the inquest. The coroner advised the jury
that although the soldier was entitled under law not to attend his
unsworn statement should be treated with caution. The only other
soldier in the sanger when the fatal shot was fired was conveniently
absent without leave for the six months previous to the inquest. The
coroner said, this was
amazing and of
concern. Our family was not present at this inquest because we had
no faith in its ability to discover the truth and we have a series of
Why did the gun that killed Aidan have a live round in its breach
while being cleaned? Why was it cocked? Why was the safety catch off?
How could David Holden's hands still be slippery and wet, ten
minutes after he finished washing sanger walls? Is it possible to
accidentally exert nine pounds of pressure on a weapon's trigger,
pulling it backwards and upwards? Why was Holden out of uniform,
wearing what appeared to be a track suit when he left the sanger under
police escort after the shooting? How could the Northern Ireland
Office release a definitive statement of the shooting less than an
hour after it had taken place? Was this a rigorous investigation? It
must be remembered that this is in no way the only incident of its
type. The S.A.S., the British Army and R.U.C. have been involved in
the murders of hundreds of nationalists in controversial
circumstances. On the day of Aidan's funeral the only serving
member of the British Army, Private Thain, to be convicted of killing
an Irish person, Kidso Reilly, was set free after serving just over
two years of a life sentence and is back with the army on
service. Holden was subsequently released on charges of not taking
proper care of a weapon and was disciplined in a military tribunal. He
has since been discharged on medical grounds and is a free man.
We are now told that it is important to build for the future. If we are to overcome our past we must come to terms with it and we can only do that if we know the truth about it. The British must acknowledge the atrocities which they have carried out on the Irish people.
My name is Alice O'Brien and I am representing the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings Relatives' committee here today.
I lost my sister, her husband and their two babies, 17 month old Anne-Marie and 5 month old Jacqueline in the bombings. To this day we are unsure whether they died in the Parnell Street or the Talbot Street bomb.
The twenty first anniversary of these bombings will occur on the 17th
of May and for all those years the relatives and the survivors have
waited, so far in vain, for justice to be done. Successive governments
have buried their heads in the sand on this, the greatest single
atrocity in the history of the 25 years of the Northern
Troubles. New evidence came to light in the Yorkshire
Hidden Hand: the forgotten massacre
screened in July 1993. It confirmed the long held suspicions of many,
of the involvement of British Intelligence services in the bombings.
At that time, British Intelligence was working to overthrow the Labour
Government in Britain which had come to power under Harold Wilson the
previous February. This is confirmed by Peter Wright, a member of MI6
at the time, in his book Spycatcher. Merlyn Rees, the
Northern Ireland Secretary of State in 1974, said on the Yorkshire
Television programme that he believed his policies were being
undermined by a subversive faction in Army Intelligence.
Following the bombings of 17th May 1974 there was an early breakthrough in the hunt for the bombers. A Church Minister was able to pick out three men from police mugshots as the men he saw attempting to steal a car from a Portadown car-park on that afternoon. All three were prominent Loyalists from Portadown. It later emerged that the car which exploded in Monaghan had been stolen from that car- park on that same afternoon. Three separate eye- witnesses identified the driver of the Monaghan car and three further eye-witnesses pin-pointed the driver of one of the Dublin cars.
The Gardai went to RUC headquarters with their information, but were not allowed to interview any of these suspects or the owners of the hijacked cars. The R.U.C. took the Garda information and were to report back to them. There is no record on Garda files, according to Yorkshire Television, to say whether or not the R.U.C. ever reported back. The Gardai failed to do anything further and the Irish Government failed to take up the matter with the British Government in any meaningful way. Nothing further had ever been done up to the time of the screening of the programme.
It was reported on R.T.E. News last week that Gardai had been interviewing Fr.Brendan Smyth at an R.U.C. station in connection with alleged child abuse in this state. Why was it not possible for them to interview the suspects in the Dublin- Monaghan bombings in the same way? Two bomb disposal experts, one from the British and one from the Irish army having examined the official forensic report, agreed on the programme that the Loyalists could not have carried out such an expert military operation without assistance. The Garda Commissioner at the time of the bombings, Eamonn Doherty, also stated that they must have been helped.
A year after the bombings, despite the list of suspects and the
eye-witnesses T.J.Fitzpatrick, T.D. for Cavan and Monaghan, told the
As far as the Garda Siochanna are concerned, they have no
positive information with which to identify the people who committed
Following the screening of the Yorkshire Television programme, the then Minister for Justice, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, instructed the Gardai to follow up the various questions raised by it. She had been about to issue us with a report on these investigations when the government fell last November. We wrote to the new Minister for Justice, Nora Owen, on the 10th January 1995, but now, three months later we have not received any reply to our letter, apart from an acknowledgement of its receipt.
Our Committee is simply asking for truth and justice. We believe we have a right to know the truth about the involvement of British Intelligence in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and also that we have a right to know the truth about the failure of our government and our police force to act on the information it received. In the climate which has been created by the ceasefires we believe that coming clean on past actions is a necessary part of the peace process so that we may be able to forgive and to begin the healing process. We further believe that we, the relatives of the victims and the survivors, have the right of access to all relevant information in the possession of the authorities.
We are pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you today and we would appeal to this Forum for Peace and Reconciliation to attempt to right this grave wrong and to recommend the setting up of a full public inquiry into the atrocity, thank you.
This submission is based on the proposition that reconciliation between the people of Ireland will not be possible until issues relating to the abuse of basic human rights are addressed by both governments in their search for political agreement between Unionists and Nationalists as to the future structure of government of the island as a whole.
Pat Finucane was the Catholic solicitor who was shot dead in front of his wife and three children on the 12th February 1989. He was born on the Falls Road in Belfast in 1949 and was a student at Trinity College Dublin in 1969 when his family in Belfast was forced out of their home by Loyalists at the start of the present troubles.
He pursued his studies at Trinity and upon completion of his degree returned to Belfast and commenced his study of the law eventually qualifying as a solicitor and commencing practice in 1979.
Throughout his short career he represented many people. He represented Catholics and Protestants and anyone who requested his services. He turned no one away.
He was known, however, for his fearless representation of Nationalists and Republicans in seeking the protection of law and establishing their rights in a hostile political system which discriminated against such clients since the establishment of the state itself.
There is no doubt that his fearless representation caused resentment by the authorities who were attempting to paint a picture to the outside world that any complaints of human rights abuses in the North were not only unfounded but were in fact part of a widespread propaganda campaign by those intent on destabilising the state.
Pat Finucane was murdered on the 12th February 1989 by the Loyalist paramilitary group the UFF directed by the British Army agent Brian Nelson. Brian Nelson was also a member of the British Army.
His murder followed shortly after the remarks made by Douglas Hogg in
the House of Commons on the 17th January 1989. Hogg said,
in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic
to the cause of the IRA and he went on to say,
I state it on
the basis of advice that I have received, guidance that I have been
given by people who are dealing in these matters.
The murder was passed off by British Government officials as just
another sectarian killing carried out by lawless thugs. Tom King, the
Northern Ireland Secretary of State at the time, said that Pat
Finucane was murdered by
the other side implying that Loyalists
had attacked a Republican in the on-going sectarian troubles. In
February 1993 the New York based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
published Human Rights and Legal Defence in Northern Ireland. It
states that the
Lawyers Committee mission found credible evidence
suggesting collusion between elements within the security forces and
loyalist paramilitaries in the Finucane murder. Pat Finucane's
murder was no ordinary sectarian murder.
Pat Finucane was murdered because he defended those who were seen as enemies of the state. He was murdered because he was successful in many challenges to British authority in the North. The British Government was at war with the IRA and the Republican Movement. The loyalist paramilitaries were allies of the British Government in this war. They carried out attacks against those enemies of the state as well as against ordinary Catholics.
The work of Pat Finucane encapsulated the widespread abuses of British rule in the North of Ireland during the present troubles. Loyalists undoubtedly murdered Pat Finucane. But was the murder sanctioned by the British Government?
Was it planned by the British military and carried out as directed by British soldier, Brian Nelson? Why did Douglas Hogg make his statement in the House of Commons on the 17th January 1989, three weeks before Pat's murder? Why did he refuse to give any further details when pressed to do so?
Who were the advisers he referred to? Did the R.U.C., whose officers threatened to have Pat Finucane murdered by Loyalists, advise Douglas Hogg?
In short, what is the connection between the R.U.C. death threats to Pat Finucane, Douglas Hogg's statement, Brian Nelson's role in the British Army and the murder of Pat Finucane? Is the fact that he was murdered with a British Army gun just a coincidence? Is there a connection?
Why does the British Government refuse to hold a public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane when there is great public concern both in Ireland and abroad about their role in his murder?
Why does the British Government refuse to give reasons for refusing to hold such an inquiry? Are Douglas Hogg and his advisers and Brian Nelson and his superiors reluctant to give evidence at such an inquiry? Are they reluctant to submit to cross-examination?
In order to achieve lasting peace in Ireland, reconciliation between the two traditions on the island is essential. Loyalists must sit down with Republicans eventually. Unionists must sit down with Nationalists eventually.
A framework for the future government of the island of Ireland must be agreed between the two traditions eventually otherwise the conflict will never be resolved. However, there are unresolved deaths of civilians caused by British soldiers and policemen which require resolution and abuses of human rights which require satisfaction.
The compliance with internationally recognised documents enshrining fundamental rights and freedoms is a matter for governments. The right to life is the most important right of all and the investigation of deaths involving government agents must also be carried out in compliance with internationally recognised norms.
The British Government must address the issues raised as they are obliged to do. They must answer questions asked and investigate properly any death which the public at large attributes to them or to their servants or agents. No satisfactory resolution of the conflict can be achieved until all these matters are dealt with satisfactorily.
I would like to thank the Forum for this opportunity to highlight the plight of my son, Sean Kelly, and his co-accused, jointly known as the Casement Accused.
The name the Casement Accused applies to the men sentenced for their alleged involvement in the tragic deaths of two British Army corporals. In March 1988 a series of horrific events unfolded leaving the people of West Belfast traumatised and indeed has affected some of us to the present day. The related sequence of events started when Mairéad Farrell, Daniel McCann and Sean Savage were shot dead by undercover soldiers on the British colony of Gibraltar.
As the funeral of those three was taking place in Milltown Cemetery a Loyalist, Michael Stone, launched a grenade and gun attack on the mourners. Three people lost their lives and scores more were injured. The three killed were John Murray, Thomas McErlean and Kevin Brady.
Kevin Brady was the last to be buried and it was his funeral which was interrupted by a speeding car which contained two armed men. Mourners and spectators believed this funeral, like that of Farrell, McCann and Savage, was under attack from Loyalists and they reacted accordingly.
The car was surrounded by unarmed mourners and the occupants were overpowered and taken into Casement Park. In the park both men were stripped, searched and assaulted. From the park both men were taken away in the back of a taxi. They were taken to waste ground in Penny Lane, where another fight took place at the end of which both men were shot dead. The IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The controversy surrounding the Gibraltar killings and the Milltown attack ensured a large crowd attended all the funerals as well as heavy media attention. Press pictures and film footage was used to identify mourners and spectators and a large number of both were arrested and questioned. Over a three year period 41 men were arrested and charged on a variety of charges. Eleven of the 41 were charged with murder or aiding and abetting murder, yet none of the 41 were accused of firing the fatal shots.
My son Sean and his co-accused, Pat Kane and Michael Timmons, were arrested 11 months after the incident. Their alleged involvement was minor and had ended at Casement Park. The prosecution did not accuse any of the three with involvement in the latter stages of the incident. That is the taxi ride from Casement Park nor the fight and shooting at Penny Lane. The three were originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm and false imprisonment. All were released on bail. The charges were later increased to aiding and abetting others to commit murder and the police had no objections to continuing bail.
At their trial Justice Carswell (now Lord Justice Carswell) found all three guilty of aiding and abetting. Invoking the Doctrine of Common Purpose he stated that they must have thought the victims could be murdered. The judge quoted a number of precedents in support of his findings. All the precedents had a common denominator which in our view disqualified them as comparisons to this case. All were criminal enterprises or conspiracies from the start and the cited defendants were mostly gang members.
In our own case neither Pat, Sean or Michael knew each other. None of them attended or arrived at that funeral with any criminal or illegal intent. There was not one iota of premeditation involved. None belonged to any paramilitary or political organisation, either legal or illegal. None condoned either by word or deed any deaths. Pat Kane was partially deaf and illiterate and the BBC's Rough Justice programme has shown that there are clear contradictions between his recollection and what actually happened.
My son Sean was walking down the road beside me when the shots which killed the soldiers were fired. We were a quarter to a half a mile away from Penny Lane. I cannot understand how he can be held responsible for the actions of men he did not know. He couldn't know that half a mile away a fight was taking place. He couldn't know there was a man with a gun, nor what that man was thinking. We believe with all our hearts our sons are the victims of a grave miscarriage of justice and we appeal to this Forum to use its influence to help us right this wrong.
We note the Secretary of State has bowed to pressure and has instructed the Prison Review Board to examine the case of Private Clegg, who has been found guilty of the murder of Karen Reilly, a teenage joyrider. Sir Patrick cites extenuating circumstances, i.e. Clegg was on active service in West Belfast and could have come under attack. If the background leading up to the tragic deaths of the two army corporals isn't extenuating circumstances then there is no such thing as extenuating circumstances. Given the concern expressed by respected groups and individuals, does this Forum believe the Secretary of State should exercise parity? I urge you again to help us get our loved ones home.
I realise that your time is at a premium so could I finish by relaying a message from Sean, Pat and Michael. They want me to tell you that they are in jail with other men who also protest their innocence. The families of some are here today. Some of the cases you will know already and others are less well known. On behalf of them all I thank you for this platform.
At a time when people in Ireland are engaged in a process of healing and understanding, we believe that peace must be based on truth, justice and charity. Without these, political agreement will almost certainly be impossible.
We note that whereas paramilitary organisations and political parties associated with them in Ireland have indicated their regret and remorse over their contribution to the deaths and suffering of innocent people. The British Government refuses to acknowledge or apologise for the deaths and suffering of innocent people it has caused.
The Campaign for the Right to Truth seeks to win an acknowledgement by the British Government that over the past 25 years it acted unlawfully and unjustly on many occasions.
We believe that victims of state violence and the public have a right to know the truth about the actions of the state and its agencies. We believe such an acknowledgement will have enormous moral power and help secure a better future for ourselves and our children. We believe that as victims and as citizens we have the right to know fully what injustices were done by the state and its representatives. Only when we know the truth can we identify the remedies needed to secure that these things never happen again.
We believe that the Right to Truth is:
a) the inalienable right of all citizens.
b) historically and ethically necessary for every society.
c) necessary for the emotional healing of our people and the process of building a just society.
d) essential for full freedom of expression for both the individual and the media.
e) necessary to maintain the dignity and identity of the dead and of those who have suffered.
The objectives of the Campaign for the Right to Truth are:
According to a recent study produced by Relatives For Justice,
Collusion 1990-1994: Loyalist Paramilitary Murders in North of
Ireland, of the 168 sectarian killings carried out by loyalist
paramilitaries in this period 103 of them showed
evidence of some
form of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the Security
Forces (p. 2).
The relatives had a
very unsatisfactory meeting with the Irish
Republic's Justice Minister, Nora Owen, on 17 May 1995, the 21st
anniversary of the bombing. The Fine Gael minister informed the
relatives that there was to be no inquiry, public or otherwise. The
relatives now intend to hold their own public inquiry.
Human Rights and Legal Defense in Northern Ireland: The Intimidation of Defense Lawyers, The Murder of Pat Finucane; Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York, Feb. 1993, p. 42.