Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Since victims voiced their genuine concerns about the Victims Commission its composition and construction we have learnt of an attempt by the DUP to silence us. We made it clear that while we were initially open and fair minded about the development we reserved the right to form our own opinion in our own time. We were sickened by the sight of Martin McGuinness, a terrorist godfather standing at the dispatch box telling victims, over 2000 of which he by implication created, what they would receive. He simply ignored questions which challenged his hypocrisy and went on to dictate the future for victims.  

The terminology used by the OFMDFM in their profile of Ms MacBride describing her brother as a ‘volunteer’ on ‘active service’ legitimises the terrorist activities of these men and indeed are direct lifts from their own propaganda. They imply a moral equivalency with the men and women who voluntarily placed their lives on the line by joining the security forces. This is unacceptable to the families.  

The manner in which the appointments were made has left victims such as ourselves without a voice. It was a process born out of political expediency and deadlock, a compromise between the DUP and Sinn Fein/IRA. It is not as we were led to believe a proper Commission established to primarily benefit victims. It has once more left the majority of victims, who could not in conscience accept terrorists as victims, without a voice. It has left victims of terrorism isolated and excluded. 

To that end the Commission is unrepresentative, and just as we have seen a group fight through the courts to challenge government appointments to the Parades Commission we feel that we are left with no other option. Unless we can be confident that the Commission rejects the definition of a victim as contained in the 2006 Order and moves to state as was the position of the DUP in a Policy Document issued on victims in 2003 which said, " “We contend that there is a fundamental distinction between those who have suffered at the hands of terrorist gangs and those terrorists and former terrorists who contributed to the terror campaign and wrought untold suffering through the period of the Troubles.” This was a clear commitment made to victims and one which we will not allow the DUP or Ian Paisley to break. 

These are our genuine concerns and we have a right indeed an obligation to our members to make them known. We have been principles and consistent in our stand against political interference and expediency in our sector. We did not tolerate it from the UUP and SDLP in the old Assembly and we will not tolerate it from the DUP and Sinn Fein/IRA now. What disgusts us most is the efforts by the DUP to silence us, we know that they have already lied to us claiming that the government statement which used the offensive Republic terminology was a mistake and simply put on the website but did not reflect policy. However now we learn that it formed the substantial basis of a press release authorized by Ian Paisley’s Department and issued at 1454 on 28 January to announce the Commission. This initial attempt to deceive us was followed by a campaign to deter the media from printing our words. They attempted to undermine the position of FAIR and that of its spokesman William Frazer, they attempted to highlight groups they felt would be more sympathetic to the Commission.  

Such interference will not be tolerated and we will not be silenced by the DUP, this is not a political matter however they have brought politics into our sphere and we will not allow it. They may be prepared to allow those who espouse terrorism into government but will not tolerate any sanitization of terrorism within the Victims Sector. We have been betrayed by former friends but our position remains principled and consistent. To place anyone who has links to or sympathy with terrorism in a Victims Commission is akin to putting a rapist in charge of Women’s Aid or the Rape Crisis Centre. It is morally repugnant and practically unworkable. We have already today taken legal advice and will challenge this Commission, its appointment process and the unrepresentative composition. 

William Frazer 07787743024

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