In recent days a debate on ‘Dealing with the Past’ took place at the Lyric theatre to which Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson participated along with others.
Within that debate it is reported that the Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson when questioned about the need for equality amongst victims responded, “when you talk about good and bad victims, or deserving and undeserving victims you end up in a degrading debate and that conversation belittles everyone”.
When pushed on the issue she furthermore is reported to have said that “some people are not at that stage yet”.
That “some people” are the Innocent Victims United affiliated 11,500 innocent victims and survivors of republican and loyalist terrorism and ‘other Troubles related violence,’ former Justice Spokesman for the SDLP Alban Maginness, the leaderships of the main Churches, the leadership of the GAA, former COI Archbishop Robin Eames, all unionist political parties, other individual nationalist political representatives, other victim and survivor groups not affiliated to IVU, many prominent academics, several respected newspaper columnists and broadcast pundits, the European Union (through its’ definition of victim) and we submit, the majority of the Northern Ireland public who even in this corrupted Society understand in their heart that perpetrators and their victims are not one in the same.
In 1998 as part of a supposed political settlement terrorists were released from prison. In being released they were not cleansed of the crimes they committed but rather were released as terrorists on license.
The ‘Definition of Victim’ as laid out in the 2006 Order has the outworking of equating perpetrators with their innocent victim(s) – how can that possibly be right? How would people respond if paedophiles were understood in law to be ‘victims’ alike the vulnerable children they harmed?
SEFF accepts that there are individuals who engaged in acts of terrorism and also individuals within the security forces who stepped outside the law who may require support around areas of mental health and wellbeing and welfare. But such services cannot and should not be provided under a process which lies about their reasoning for requiring that support.
We will not accept those who engaged in acts of criminality against their neighbour Protestant, Roman Catholic and Dissenter being re-calibrated as ‘victims.’
The law of this land which governs our people must speak the truth on these issues. We have said this repeatedly and we say it again – the key to building a sustainable Peace in this Country is not to misrepresent the Past, nor to remove individual responsibility from the criminal actions which were committed.
Rather what is needed across the board is a universal recognition that the use of terrorism and violence in the furtherance of or defence of a ‘so-called political objective’ was never and can never be justified.
Whatever grievance (perceived or otherwise) any given individual or community harboured there was never a legitimacy to take another human being’s life.
If the political class refuse to change the definition of victim then the issue should be put to the people, let their voices be heard through a Public Referendum. It should be remembered that Sinn Fein’s failure to return 30 MLA’s means they do not singularly have the power to trigger a petition of concern. The SDLP and other independents elected along with others must finally do the right thing – recalibrate this Society and have the truth reflected in law – perpetrators are not victims.