Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Victims who have to date adopted a wait and see policy with regard to Sinn Fein Compliance to the St Andrews Agreement have been disappointed. In South Armagh we continue to see Republican violence running unchecked and their criminal pursuits unstopped. We have been told that Republicans are ready to sign up to policing and criminal justice, that the concessions already given are enough to persuade them yet to this day that is not the case on the ground. We have been monitoring the situation where a numbers of terrorists who have been On the Run are back in our area. When we notified the police we met with a wall of silence and were referred back to Police Headquarters. We will not accept any Amnesty for terrorists wither de jure or de facto !

If Sinn Fein/IRA expect their victims to accept such a staged cynical tactic where one day they wantonly break the law and flout the rules then suddenly next day they pay lip service to it they are wrong. We do not believe in the Damascus Road conversions of Republicans, they cannot simply change overnight. If thatís is the case we must ask why did they not convert years ago, why did they not turn off the violence then or a more poignant question is why did they ever start ?

Such a cynical manipulation of the political process is abhorrent to all true democrats, and we must ask serious questions about the unsuitability of Sinn Fein for any positions at Stormont. In either case they are unfit for office for either they are using crime and illegality as a political ploy and withholding support for the police as a tactic, or they have only decided to adopt this new stance in which case they need to be monitored and tested. In either case at this stage they are not fit for government.

Their greatest test will come from victims, exactly what shape will Republicans signing up to policing take, victims demand to know what exactly it will look like. If they are genuine then it will look like every other truly democratic partyís stance and engagement with policing and criminal justice. It will involve a transparent testable period to restore the confidence lost by their terrorist actions of thirty years. It will involve public and genuine attempts in both words and deed to ensure their constituencies support and co-operate with the police. It will mean action taken on Republican criminality especially areas like South Armagh where they have most influence and control. Just as Sinn Fein/IRA were instrumental in crime here allowed and licensed it and indeed offered criminals protection they must reverse this status quo. They must remove their support for crime and criminals they must desist from it themselves and they must work with the police to dismantle their own criminal empires.

Actions not words will be the deciding factor, the reporting of crime, the engagement with the Historical Enquiries Team and Assets Recovery Agency and IMC to provide an evidenced picture of their previous activities and to demonstrate they are finished with them for good. The exposing and prosecuting of those who are involved in crime would follow, the recovery of their illegal assets and proceeds of crime, the end to paramilitary activity at all levels and the passing of crucial information to ensure that disaffected Republicans do not seep to the Dissidents. Republicans and their communities hold the key to defeating the dissidents and we will watch with interest how successful this is.

As a law abiding democratic community who have a long history of support for and participation in policing and justice we know what support for the police really looks like. We know how difficult it is at times to rely on the police when they are under resourced, but we have and now have that experience. We also know what a charade looks like, what a cynical political ploy which involved paying lip service to policing yet never intending to implement these commitments. Support for policing must not become another decommissioning where Sinn Fein pay lip service and say they will use their influence, this must be done differently.

In short victims will be watching very carefully and will recognise a genuine commitment from a cynical charade. We have experience that will be useful to Republicans is they are genuine but we also have eyes and ears and mouths that will expose them if they do not. To that end we have appealed directly to the DUP to allow us to have a watching brief in the weeks and months ahead. If victims in South Armagh can be satisfied and feels safe and confident then we have a deal if we do not then there will not !


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