FAIR

Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh

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16/06/05
VICTIMS WILL BE SEEN AND HEARD

 The government’s policy of ‘Victims Should be seen and Not Heard” reared its ugly head again this week. Victims groups FAIR which has been spear-heading a campaign for an apology and recognition for victims from the Libyian government has been once more discriminated against for its stance. In a government attempt to punish and censure the groups and victims generally it was refused a £200,000 grant on the grounds that it was “ largely involved in campaigning”. This was made all the more ridiculous when it became clear that the project was a capital project namely a centre to remember victims. Such was their zeal to censure the group that they did not even consider the nature of the project properly. It is clear that the increased profile the group has received in the press over the Libya issue has contributed to this result.

 

Once more victims who speak out and speak up for themselves pose a threat to government who in turn punish and try to curb them by denying funds. However we have a clear message to government we will not be bought nor will we be silenced. As the government tries to take the roof from over our heads we remind them that for thirty years our homes have been destroyed by terrorist bombs, but we have remained. As they try to hold back much needed funds to force us onto the street we remind them that what the PIRA could not achieve at the end of a gun they will not achieve at the end of the purse strings.

 

If the government puts victims onto the streets we will happily take to the streets to ensure that we will be heard. This is no longer simply a victims issue or a FAIR issue this is the test case for equality in Northern Ireland. The blatant discrimination that victims face is an indicator of treatment for the wider community we represent. At a time when our politicians have united to highlight the disparity in funding between the communities a case such as this provides an example of this discrimination at its worst.

 

Government has been trying to undermine the victims sector since its inception and they have consistently denied it funding whilst in just over 5 years they pumped over £17 million into ex-prisoners groups. Victims have barely received a third of that, and yet we are penalised when we attempt to raise this issue. We will no longer accept the scraps from the prisoners table given as a reward for complicity in the process of appeasement. Nor will we allow the government and funders to bypass genuine victims support groups in preference for community groups which pose as victims groups, for service providing businesses and for quangoes. These bodies such as the Trauma Advisory Panels purport to represent victims issues however when their make-up is examined it is clear that they are far from representative. When will the government start to listen to victims instead of trying to gag us and employ others to speak on our behalf. In the words of one terrorist group – “ We haven’t gone away you know !”

 


 

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