Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Victims are wondering today just how many insults Ian Paisley intends to deliver to the memory of their loved ones. The next sickening spectacle of Paisley has meeting Bertie Ahern has offended and saddened many true Ulstermen and women. His warm handshake for the man who symbolises a state that has been the sworn enemy of Northern Ireland for decades seems to epitomise the depths to which Ian Paisley will stoop. In his blind dash for office and personal emolument he strips himself of every traditional unionist principle and tradition. He stands naked of all honour as he stammers to pronounce peace.

For someone who has built his career and reputation on a robust defence of Ulster it is sad to see him try and crawl under the blanket of Irishness. Like a shamed prodical son Ian Paisley has made his way to Dublin after over three decades of rebellious living to reclaim kinship with his Irish roots. Like the prodical son he was welcomed and celebrated but like the moral of the story such a return signifies a denial of his previous position, an acknowledgement that he was wrong an humiliating and self imposed admission of error and a contrite implied beg for forgiveness. That was what Ian Paisley vowed never to do.

Just as his meeting with Adams attempted to sweep away the evil legacy of Sinn Fein/IRA so his meeting with Ahern tires to ignore and expunge the years of onslaught against Ulster by the Irish Republic. In order to do this he must deny the victims just as Peter denied his knowledge of or affection for Christ on three occasions therefore we wait with expectant horror to see his third denial of us. We intend to challenge him over this and his break of faith with the victims, his backsliding and betrayal will not go unchallenged.

When border protestants hear him talk of removing the hedges between our two counties, it angers them since those very hedges were tended and watered by the blood of our loved ones. They were and continue to be very necessary and the graveyards of this area bear sad testimony of this. Ian Paisley travelled many times to these parts urging young men to leave theyr wives and children and defend the border many never returned. Their blood is on his hands and we hope in the still watches of the night the memory of them and the words he used to spur them to action haunt him.

He has used the words over my dead body as he opposed the advances of the Dublin government sadly his political fantasies were realised over the dead bodies of our loved ones. As he travelled to Dublin he passed the victims of South Armagh, both living and dead. He did not stop he passed us by in his haste to shake Ahern by the hand. He has said that he will provide a strong voice for unionism we wait to see just what his words will deliver. We had raised on a number of occasions with the DUP our problems with the Irish government and their refusal to meet with us. For many years we have been asking for a meeting at which we would raise the issue of the Irish state’s involvement in the Troubles.

For over three decades they have been part of the problem constitutionally they inspired the violence of the PIRA by virtue of their Articles 2&3; they created and armed that group and supplied money and munitions to continue the violence on the streets of Northern Ireland. Throughout the Troubles they refused to extradite terrorists and created a safe haven in the south which along with a failure to secure the border led to frequent murderous incursions.

These are the issues that still need to be addressed and if they were not on the agenda then the DUP are failing their people. They may be difficult truths now that the politicians have made their deal but truths they are. If our political leaders drop these issues and demands they are betraying our trust and need to be challenged. For over thirty years we have been let down by that state and their acts of commission and omission cannot be simply forgotten. We are glad that Dr Paisley uses plain speech when he talks to Mr Ahern, sadly he appears not to give victims the same respect. We will however remind him of the conversations he had with us in recent times and the clear deviation from the promises he made.


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