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Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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26/07/05 - BLAIR DEVALUES NORTHERN IRELAND'S VICTIMS

Victims in Northern Ireland are shocked by the cruel insensitivity of the Prime Minister when he claimed that IRA terrorism was not as bad as that of Al-Queda. At a time when victims across the United Kingdom are united in their rejection of terrorism and indeed when we have offered sympathy and empathy with London how can he make such a comment? Perhaps London is more important to the Prime Minister than Belfast? This has always been our fear as over thirty years we in Ulster have had to endure terror that would not have been tolerated in England.

This cruel inequality allowed thousands of innocent people here to fall victim to terrorism that could have been curbed and defeated if the same resolute approach as is being taken in London had been adopted here. Our security forces were never allowed to fight terrorism, their hands were ties and the men of violence allowed to run free. It is a disgrace and a travesty of justice that must now be addressed. As British citizens we demand equal British citizenship, with equal protections under the law.

Today communities here continue to live under fear just as they do in London, and as Blair himself said the primary objective of a terrorist is to terrorise. They do not necessarily have to kill to achieve that they have merely to carry a threat. Sinn Fein/IRA continue to hold that threat almost twenty years into a so-called Peace Process. Had it not been for the continual rejection by the people of the province of terrorism, and their refusal to allow Sinn Fein/IRA into government while they remained wedded to terrorism then Tony Blair would have had them in years ago.

Many commentators point to Britain's involvement in Iraq as the reason for terrorist attacks recently. We would see the weak and appeasing tendency of the previous Labour governments and the message that spelt out to terrorists that has led to the attacks. An Islamic group does not have to study the history of Northern Ireland too long in order to draw out the simple conclusion - terrorism works. Tony Blair is weak and pliable if the terror can be taken to London. Al-Queda need only carry out one or two spectacular bombings of the financial districts of London and they will be well on their way to appeasement.

How can a British Prime Minister so devalue the suffering of our families? Are our lives of less value or do our feelings or injuries hurt less? This classification of victims by postal code policy is a disgrace, it is a cruel and hypocritical position and we demand an apology from the Prime Minister. However we are also mindful of the many families in London, the Home Counties and beyond, indeed families the length and breadth of the United Kingdom who are victims of Sinn Fein/IRA. The families of young soldiers cut down in their prime as they served to defeat terrorism here. Or the many victims of PIRA Atrocities such as the Harrods Bomb, the M62 bus bombing, the Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham pub bombs, or the Hyde/Regents Park bombings to name but a few. How do these people feel when they hear their Prime Minister belittle the PIRA's terrorism?

It is obvious that Blair's comments are designed to prepare the way for some more weasel words from Sinn Fein/IRA later perhaps this week. As Tony takes up his positions as chief cheerleader alongside his Republican Secretary of State Hain the victims of Ulster refuse to be fooled. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism there can be no grey areas there can be no fudge and no spin. The Prime Minister cannot pick and choose what killers he cosies up to and which he hunts down. There are still men who may even be involved in negotiations with the government who were involved in a string of deadly bombings in London. Many members of Sinn Fein/IRA have escaped justice for their deeds yet now we see the Prime Minister trying to prepare the ground for their re-entry into government here.

We will no longer stand for their double-standards and shoddy treatment. Our lives are worth every bit as much as Londoners and our pain no less than theirs. We are all British citizens and demand equal rights and protections. Terrible and all as the London bus and train bombings were they do no compare with an incident where a number of terrorist stopped a bus as it left workers home then lined up all the passengers and riddled their defenceless bodies. To do that, to look into the victims eyes then empty a magazine into their bodies takes a particularly ruthless sort of terrorist. These same men who carried out that atrocity are now accepted by Tony Blair as he tries to accommodate them. We as their victims say their can be no accommodation with such dangerous men they must be removed from society.

 



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