FAIR
Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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18/10/04
Funders try to silence victims

Recently FAIR along with other victims groups have been feeling undue pressure from funders. The recent exposure of several funders as being responsible for the unjustified amounts of money making its way into terrorist ex-prisoner groups seems to be the catalyst for renewed discrimination against FAIR. As a group which has been working tirelessly since 1998 to help innocent victims we have had to fight for every penny of funding we have received. Indeed in comparison to what many terrorist prisoner groups received it was indeed pennies.

As an organisation we have had to seek legal redress through the Equality Commission because of our treatment at the hands of one funder NIVT [ Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust]. Whilst NIVT may have changed its name to CFNI [Community Foundation Northern Ireland] they appear not to have changed their approach to victims groups. Continually they attempt to frustrate the wishes of our members and to dictate the direction of the organisation. Whilst we have made remarkable progress in areas such as cross community development many funders would try to force us into bed with terrorist linked groups.

As a group we produce a newsletter which carries topical pieces on current affairs that are of interest to victims, the newsletter is for the internal consumption of our members and is meant to reflect their views and to stimulate debate. Other sections funded by the Community Relations Council are basic information articles, and social pieces such as benefits advice, help with trauma or recipes and children’s pieces. The newsletter whilst funder by the CRC does not purport to represent the views of the CRC, and indeed they make a partial contribution to the overall publication.

However recently they and CFNI have both attacked out newsletter which is the first victims led organ which allows groups like ourselves to have a voice. It gives our members a platform on which to articulate their views as is their right in a democratic society, it gives them an opportunity to reintegrate into society. In short the magazine offers a unique opportunity for victims to exercise their right of freedom of speech and for others to hear them. Now the funders are conspiring to silence that voice.

In previous years funders often at the behest of Sinn Fein/IRA have tried to close down our website now they try to shut down our newspaper. The truth obviously hurts but in the interests of peace building truth and justice must be done. To that end we wish to expose the fascist funders who seek to trample the rights of innocent victims and to send out a clear signal that we will never be silenced. Money is not our master and while we will continue to fight for what is rightfully ours in funding terms we will not be blackmailed by the funders.

We have contacted Jim Allister MEP who has raised the issue of funding and the discrimination against groups from the majority community. We will be briefing him on our current plight and will engage his services to mediate with funders to end the current assault on our group. If it continues or jeopardises future funding we will have no alternative but to take our case to the Equality Commission.

 



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