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Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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04/03/06
COMBINED VICTIMS RESPONSE TO DUBLIN RIOTS

Last Saturday, the 25th of February, victims of IRA violence travelled to Dublin to hold a procession and a rally. We sought to highlight the brutality and ugliness of Republican terrorist violence, in the capital city of the Irish Republic. But we were prevented from holding our event by further orchestrated violence by Republicans, including members of Sinn Fein/IRA.

Their vicious rioting and attacks included the use of blast devices, rocks, hammers and knives. Whilst members of our group could see and hear this violence taking place, thankfully none of our group was injured. We wish to place on record our appreciation of the efforts of the Garda officers on duty, who twice evacuated us from our locations, and who bore the brunt of that violence.

We are aware that, had our procession departed on time, we would have been at the location of the heaviest rioting as it erupted. We believe that that was the intention of the Sinn Fein/IRA orchestrators of that violence. We believe this could well have resulted in serious injury and loss of life. We wish to thank most sincerely those bands which travelled with us to accompany our procession, and which showed great maturity and discipline throughout the day. There have been a number of inaccuracies in media reports. First of all, our event was a Victims Rally. It was NOT an Orange Parade and it was NOT a Love Ulster rally. Both those organisations had expressed their support, as did others. But this event was run for and by victims groups.

It was the chance for victims and loved ones, to stand up and say to Sinn Fein/IRA, "you've achieved nothing, only caused terrible pain and suffering." And to say to Gerry Adams, "We haven't gone away, you know." Like others, we had expected that Saturday's procession and rally would pass off peacefully. Representatives of our group had met twice with senior Garda officers and had been assured that they did not expect any significant counter-protest. However it appears that some Republicans were determined that, at all costs, our procession should not pass the GPO in O'Connell Street.

To those citizens of the Irish Republic who were appalled at the ensuing violence, we would ask the question: which Sinn Fein TD would you like to be your Minister of Justice? We have been asked, will we try to hold the Dublin rally again?

We cannot give a firm answer to that question at this moment in time. We will need to consult with our own groups. Obviously we would like to hold the event which we were prevented from having last Saturday. However there is clearly a violent Republican element which will not tolerate the issues we wish to highlight on the streets of the southern capital.

Obviously we would like to hold the event which we were prevented from having last Saturday. However there is clearly a violent Republican element which will not tolerate the issues we wish to highlight on the streets of the southern capital.

We would NOT wish to place our own people, nor the people of Dublin, nor their police, in danger of violent protest which could not be contained.

Some have suggested, that perhaps we could go to welcome Her Majesty The Queen when she visits the Republic.

We are now seeking to hold urgent meetings with the leaders of the main Unionist political parties, the DUP and the UUP, to highlight issues of concern. This includes our anger at comments by Secretary of State Peter Hain. His response to the orchestrated Republican violence which placed us in such danger was to say that "people should not provoke each other." This is typical of his primary concern always NOT to offend Sinn Fein/IRA. In contrast, many others have defended our right to have been there to have held a peaceful public demonstration.


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