Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Victims issue needs addressed

The weekend announcements about the Victims Parade in Dublin have been portrayed by some as a compromise which could not be further from the truth. The ongoing negotiations with the Irish Government are exactly what victims wanted. The Parade was always our Plan B which would have to be implanted if normal diplomacy and mature productive engagement did not reap results. We have a basic right under the European Convention to parade whether it be in Belfast London or Dublin and we reserve the right to exercise that right. However with rights always come responsibilities and it is in recognition of that that we have always been receptive to common sense from the South.

The fact that there remains those in society both North and South who would wish to exclude and eliminate us makes it all the more important for ordinary decent people to embrace and include victims. While we always expected an intolerant violent and fascist response from Republicans and security sources warn us that the treat from these elements continues to be high. To that end rather than a simple parade which could be forced through to the satisfaction of all we feel that a process must be established and led by victims to address the deep seated bigotry and ignorance that we have witnessed.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is the real presence of those who continue to use violence to subvert the democratic will and the fundamental freedoms of the peoples of this island. While many choose to ignore or forget about this fact the carnage on the streets of Dublin serves as a timely reminder of this truth. Even today our sources and the Garda tell us that our plans to peacefully parade were going to be met with violence on a scale that would dwarf the previous trouble. A series of orchestrated attacks were already being planned with participants being attacked even before they left Northern Ireland. As organisers we are primarily mindful of the safety of those we are taking to Dublin. The further loss of life is a real factor in our planning which speaks volumes about the peace we are all supposed to be enjoying.

The challenge is and remains for both governments over both jurisdictions to ensure that such threats are neutralised. It is clear to both governments who is involved in the violence and who plans it. Indeed our last march offered a golden opportunity as it brought many of these parasites out of the woodwork and onto the streets of Dublin. The police know who they are and where they are sadly the political will to deal with them does not exist. We as victims will continue to press the police and both states to bring an end to physical force Republicanism. If we are to believe in pace there must be no illegal armies no secret army councils, no commanders no volunteers and no activity.

While only a small violent minority came out to attack us there were many others who hid behind them. Just as we witnessed through the Troubles many attacked us by proxy unwilling to get blood on their hands they still profited as mush from the terrorism of others. Men like those critics from the Church of Ireland who prejudice against their co-religionists bears an uncanny resemblance to those who collaborated during the Second World war. They sacrifice those who they should support to ingratiate themselves with those who they ought to expose and oppose. It would appear that our work of education to counter intolerance must begin at home as well as in Dublin. We set out to achieve recognition of our suffering at the hands of fascist Republican terrorists, that was done for the entire world to see on the streets of Dublin. We were there to display pride in our culture and to promote it we will now be doing that at a static location where a bigger audience will benefit. We also wish to build on the good will of the people of Dublin who were shocked by the treatment we received. There is challenge to all if Ireland is a modern multi-cultural society will if be able to accommodate us?


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