Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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The events of today which began with high farce and ended in high drama underscore the real lack of foundation underpinning the political events. The total duplicity of Sinn Fein/IRA and their continuing use of violence and the threat thereof to extract political concessions remains the most destabilising feature. Even now despite paying lip-service to democracy and the principle of consent for almost a decade they continue to espouse it as a empty meaningless formula that does not bind them. Instead they pursue an ‘inch by inch’ strategy, seeing the institutions as a stepping stone to a United Ireland. No doubt they have a timescale for this strategy and this is the most worrying feature. People have lived in relative peace in recent years, insulated from the murderous attacks of the IRA not because Republicans have realised that the use of violence is wrong and must never be used again, but rather that it is currently the time to adopt a different approach. People are alive today in our country not because Sinn Fein/IRA have given up violence but rather they have chosen to use political methods at this time.

The stark reality is that we are being kept alive by their patience, whenever that patience in the political process runs out what guarantee do we have that they will not return to a more direct violence approach. I mentioned the timescale of their strategy; to date they are happy with the level of gain achieved and the concessions milked from the process, however it is only now that we see these drying up. For victims to be confident in the future we require a point in the process where Sinn Fein are forced to make a choice, where the dynamic is reversed and their future progress is not defined by their ability to threaten violence but debarred by the continuation of that ability. They must make the choice now that should have been required of them almost a decade ago. We must implement the Mitchell principles and abide by them.

Words will no longer suffice, action is the only ticket to the show from now on! As victims we are best placed to monitor the actions or lack of them and we will be in a central position to ensure Republican compliance. The ghosts of their victims will, through us, come back to haunt the terrorists of Sinn Fein/IRA. In the corridors of Stormont, in the chamber and at the hustings we will be there like spectres to ensure that the evil deeds of Republicans do not profit them. They will realise that while they may have killed individuals they could not kill ideals, while they may have orphaned children they could not silence those bereaved, while they could murder policemen that they must now sign up to British policing and justice, that while they bombed and maimed they could not break the will of the unionist people.

Defeat will take time to register with Republicans, but today as they stood in the chamber they once tried to destroy, they have admitted their defeat and have been forced to accept that which makes them no longer Irish Republicans. However despite this reversal for Republicans they cannot yet be trusted as the lesson of history instructs us well. De Valera though defeated in the Civil War and forced to concede and enter the Institutions of the hated Irish Free State continued his undemocratic struggle by using the institutions. Violent Irish Republicanism reincarnated itself fracturing and continuing like a cancerous growth in the body of this island. The real issue for us all is to test whether Republicans have once and for all signed up to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. If they have then the first test for them as it was for Micheal Collins then Kevin O’Higgins and William Cosgrave with his Public Safety Act and later for DeValera himself is to destroy dissident Republicanism. Perhaps this generation of Republicans can succeed where others have failed and secure for themselves a lasting legacy, however this was and remains the key test.

We cannot see a situation develop where a house trained breed of Republicans play politics at Stormont acting as a fifth column undermining and subverting democracy and public safety, while their former and perhaps current comrades acting under whatever nom de guerre continue to terrorise our country. The latter’s legitimacy must be removed, their claim to Republican purist principles denied, their support and assistance stopped and their members prosecuted. The best people and in many ways the only people able to ensure this are Sinn Fein/IRA and this is the price they must pay, this is what signing up to policing and British justice means in real terms. As victims we will never accept their word only their actions and those actions must be unequivocal. As a community which has supported the forces of law and order, the justice system and democratic structures we know what it looks like and will be able very quickly to see if Sinn Fein are achieving it.


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