Victims 'forgotten about' in peace deals

Published Monday, 09 June 2014
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Ann Travers, the sister of Mary Travers who was murdered by the IRA in 1984, has said she feels her family and others like them have been forgotten about over deals made with republicans in order to broker peace.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee is investigating the controversial 'on-the-runs' scheme.

An agreement between Sinn Féin and the last Labour government saw around 200 letters sent to republican OTRs, informing them that UK police were not actively seeking them - but not ruling out future prosecutions if new evidence became available.

According to figures released to UTV by the PSNI under Freedom of Information legislation, between 7 February 2007 and 9 September 2013, as part of Operation Rapid, police reviewed 228 names for the Northern Ireland Office.

Of those names, 95 were linked to 200 incidents involving 295 murders.

The committee is meeting in Stormont on Monday and Tuesday to hear submissions from those involved and those people potentially affected by the scheme.

Mary Travers, 22, was shot dead by an IRA gang as she left Mass in Belfast with her father, magistrate Tom Travers, in 1984.

Her sister Ann said: "The OTR letters seem to be like the final nail in the coffin of victims.

"Nobody is getting any justice or any prosecutions for their loved ones' murders and those responsible for putting us in the situation that we are in today seem to be continually rewarded."

She added: "It feels like my sister, and those other innocent victims like her, are being forgotten about. And the people being protected are those who carried out the murders."

She also said it would be "helpful" if the letters were published.

"Every time something like this happens, it re-traumatises victims ... It plays over and over in their minds. We need to end the secrecy and bring about more transparency."

If it is not a true and honest peace, it's a shaky peace.

Ann Travers

The special arrangements were disclosed following the collapse of the Hyde Park bomb trial, which was stopped when it emerged the man accused of murdering four soldiers in the 1982 IRA bombing had received one of the letters.

Donegal man John Downey denied the charges.

Sinn Féin has faced criticism after it said it will not send Gerry Kelly, who was involved in the administrative scheme, to give evidence to the committee.

The committee chair, MP Laurence Robertson, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision.

Ms Travers said it displayed the party's "arrogance" toward victims.

However, Gerry Kelly said he and his party had refused to co-operate with the committee because it was a "sap to unionism".

He added: "It has not been used to assist issues of legacy around the lack of an inquiry into the Pat Finucane murder, collision, agents assisting loyalists, the McGurk's Bar bombing and other issues that I could go on about.

"The vast majority of those people on it are opposed to Sinn Féin and people that are prepared to abuse the privilege they are allowed. Unionists have turned this into a circus and I am not prepared to be part of that.

"We have made submissions to the Lady Justice Hallett review and sent them on to the chair, so he does have the information we are in possession of."

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Louie in Kent wrote (104 days ago):
Its ok for some to suggest about moving on, for others that dont deem themselves as Republicain or Loyalist yet because of one or other of these groups have lost family members or loved ones it is them that shouldnt be forgotten, we have seem often daily the Bloody Sunday's of this country but it would be real if the good law obidding citizens,(the back bone) of Ulster where remembered and focused on!!!
Robert in Belfast wrote (104 days ago):
This country is never going to move on when people keep bringing up the past constantly. My uncle was shot dead by the paras and yes it was a tough thing to deal with but move on the past is the past we need to move on to the future. Ann i think you need to except that terrible thing happened to your sister but like myself whats going to solve by dragging it up again and again it just causes yourself hurt.
jerry in co down wrote (104 days ago):
very true.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (104 days ago):
As an ex loyalist i dont think anyone should have to pay a price for peace. There is so mush work going on behind closed doors people will never know about. But these familys should be given there loved ones back. Its the right thing to do. It would mean a lot to people on both sides of the fence. And it would show the ira is 100% for the peace process.
colin in bangor wrote (104 days ago):
whether you are a victim of republican or loyalist violence so much has happened in our country's past at what point do we draw a line under it and move on, there is always going to be a lost generation of victims that will suffer as a result of our peace process but the prize was peace and we shouldn't forget that. dont let our politicians point score and drag us back using our victims in the process and convincing them it's worth pursuing unfortunately what will result in a pointless enquiry, god love all the victims
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