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Legacy Consultation led by Northern Ireland Office – GB Seminars

  • Monday 9th  July 2018 – Leeds Town Hall, Albert Room
  • Tuesday 10th  July 2018 – The Peace Centre, Warrington
  • Wednesday 11th July 2018 – Palace of Westminster, Committee Room 8 (London)  (from 6.30pm – 9pm)

Meetings with exception of London meeting will commence at 7pm,

with refreshments provided from 6.30pm onwards.

Refreshments for the London event will follow in the Red Lion Pub, Westminster at 9.30pm

What will happen at the Consultation sessions?

A Northern Ireland Office official(s) will be present at a number of the Consultation events and will input to proceedings as well as participate in a Q & A session. SEFF’s Advocacy service team will also contribute along with individuals from the legal and academic spheres.

Link to the Consultation documents: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/addressing-the-legacy-of-northern-irelands-past

Personnel within SEFF’s Advocacy service team will be on hand to assist individual victims/survivors to submit personalised responses. Post the Consultation events listed above a template response will be devised by our Advocacy team which individuals can then personalise as they would feel appropriate.

If you have any queries at this stage then please contact any member of SEFF’s Advocacy support team directly:

  • Ken Funston (Service Manager) – 07834488635
  • Ann Travers (Support Worker) – 07860850003
  • Wendy Stewart (Support Worker) – 07860850008
  • Pete Murtagh (Support Worker) – 07860850004
  • Yasmin Wright (Great Britain Support Worker) – 07860850017

We continue to impress upon you the importance of engaging in this process, and that you, as an individual, or your group make a comprehensive response before the closing date of 10th September 2018.

Northern Ireland Office-led Legacy Consultation – SEFF/IVU

Kenny Donaldson, Director of Services for Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation and Spokesman for Innocent victims United stated: “SEFF and the wider Innocent Victims United organisation has campaigned for effective legacy structures to be implemented for many years which would respond to the needs of innocent victims/survivors of terrorism and other ‘Troubles related criminal violence.’

“SEFF and more broadly IVU  are determined that the constituency of victims/survivors whom we serve will be represented over this Consultation period and beyond”, and this includes victims/survivors based throughout Great Britain who have often been overlooked by policy initiatives concerning victims/survivors impacted by The Northern Ireland Troubles”.

“There are huge numbers of people across Great Britain who have been directly impacted by the terrorist campaign whether ex service personnel and their families or members of the civilian population, their voices and needs must be heard and acted upon”.

“Victims and survivors should not be discriminated on the basis of where they happen to live, they should have equality of access to support services and other interventions, including reparation packages. It is essential that whatever flows post the Consultation is available to victims/survivors irrespective of their postcode”.

“The Northern Ireland Office proposals contain structures which Government claims will advance the justice, truth and accountability needs of individual victims and survivors. At early dissection there we have uncovered a number of fundamental flaws which must be redressed by Government; it is absolutely unsustainable to suggest that only those cases yet to be reviewed by the HET will have access to an HIU Investigation, this flies in this face of all Equality measures and must be rectified. The lack of focus upon the seriously injured is also a glaring omission and we will be putting forward our proposals over the Consultation period in adequately addressing this area of need”.

“We are also clear that any suite of institutions legislated for must be fair and balanced and guarantee innocent victims/survivors of terrorism equitable opportunity to have advancements made in their case; whether through pursuance of justice or truth,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

In Great Britain the three seminars will be delivered by SEFF in partnership and with support from the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace (Warrington)

New plaque unveiled in Clogher RBL to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice

News Release – 12th May 2018

New plaque unveiled in Clogher RBL to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice

On Saturday afternoon last a special service was held in Clogher Royal British Legion at which a plaque was unveiled remembering the 12 members of the security forces who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist campaign inflicted within the District.

Amongst the 12 families being remembered were three families from Great Britain whose loved ones were members of Regular Army units. These families were hosted in The Clogher Valley area over the weekend by Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF)

Chairman of Clogher RBL Branch Harry Alexander explains: “Our Branch felt it very important to erect a plaque which would pay tribute to those who laid down their lives in defence of democracy and of defeating the terrorist campaign”.

“I had the great honour of serving with 11 of the 12 service personnel remembered and I found today particularly Saturday particularly poignant because it marked my own brother-in-law’s Anniversary – Ivan Hillen who is one of those remembered on the plaque”.

“We were delighted to work in partnership with SEFF this weekend where we have been able to host visiting families, bring them to the scenes where their loved ones were killed (which proved extremely emotional) and there was also an opportunity for some good relaxation time to be built into the weekend”.

Kenny Donaldson, SEFF’s Director of Services stated: “We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who donned the uniforms of the police, military and prison service and who sought to serve the community, often paying a very heavy price for their courage”.

“The GB families visiting were advised of the support services they can now link into via SEF’s GB outreach project when they return home. We are determined that they will now feel part of the SEFF family support network”.

“We commend the Officers of Clogher RBL for first developing this initiative, the 12 individuals named on the plaque and all other innocent victims of the terrorist campaign will continue to be remembered with their heroic families,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

Celebrating South Fermanagh’s Cultural Diversity Project

Courtesy of funding received via The Northern Ireland Executive Office and its’ Central Good Relations Fund for 2017/2018, Lisnaskea-based groups; South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) and Carosyl Community Association (comprising Carrowshee and Sylvan Hill estates in the Town) have been working together over the past year to develop and also deliver a groundbreaking cultural diversity project for older and younger people within the area.

Project Coordinator and SEFF employee Jenny Ferguson explains: “Over the past 7-8 months people from across the FULL community have been coming together to engage on cultural diversity-themed issues. It has been heartening to see the levels of participation right across the community and age spectrum. We have explored areas such as; The Great War, The Easter Rising, sport, music, language, the Loyal Orders and we have learnt the true history of historical events and the role of historical personalities and figures. The core purpose of the Project has been about learning together within a non-threatening environment, busting the myths and falsehoods which have aided sectarianism down the years”.

Meanwhile Kathleen Breen, Secretary of Carrosyl Community Association added: “All who participated in the Project are proud of their south Fermanagh roots, it is our shared home. It has been a positive project for all concerned, relationships have been renewed and also developed for the first time between the older participants and also it has been positive to see the levels of engagement within the youth. Our group has a history of working with others from across the community but often these groups have been some geographical distance from us, this Project was different in that participants live within the south Fermanagh area and we hope that there will be a sustainable legacy of relationships post this Project’s completion”.Presentation of Collages

Director of Services for SEFF Kenny Donaldson stated: “Throughout the Project there were times of debate and of variances in opinion but crucially people stayed with the process, people from across the community appeared to relish the opportunity of being able to reconnect or in some cases connect for the first time. SEFF remains committed along with Carrosyl Community Association to further develop relationships thus enabling people from across the south Fermanagh community to better understand one another. A good foundation is in place and there is a will to try to build upon that foundation. The Celebrating South Fermanagh Project has sought to engender respect for cultural diversity, that this is something to be celebrated and not feared,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

Please download and share our Myth Busting Leaflet.

Hyde Park Ruling must signal a sea-change in policy – SEFF

Responding to confirmation that legal aid is to be granted to Hyde Park families in their civil case against John Downey, Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation which provides Advocacy support to the families has heralded the decision describing it as; “a significant step forward for innocent victims of terrorism”. The group went on to add that “the ruling is not the end but is merely the beginning”.

In a statement Advocacy Support Manager for SEFF Ken Funston stated: “SEFF is honoured to be supporting the families of Hyde Park through our Advocacy Support Service. We are striving to not only assist the advancement of this case but many others against terrorists”.

“The prospect of full justice is blocked to many innocent victims through the criminal courts but accountability will continue to be fought for through other means”.

“We commend the work of the lawyers, McCue and Partners LLP, supportive politicians but most importantly, the families of Hyde Park for their tenacity and the dignity they have shown throughout. John Downey may have cheated the prospect of being held accountable through the criminal courts, but he must still face accountability for the serious terrorist offences for which he is accused”.

Meanwhile SEFF’s London-based Advocacy Support Worker Yasmin Wright added: “It has been my pleasure to work closely with the Hyde Park families, they are ordinary yet extraordinary people. To date, the criminal justice system and the political system has failed the families, but through the civil litigation process there is now some prospect of delivering a measure of justice for those who have been so grievously wronged”.

“The UK Government has a long history of beating its’ chest in claiming that it does everything in its’ power to support its’ innocents who have been ravaged by terrorism, but yet it took the combined efforts of lawyers, a fundraising campaign, the Hyde Park bereaved, supportive individual politicians and SEFF to secure a just outcome from The Legal Aid Agency, that position is nothing short of scandalous”.

SEFF’s Director of Services Kenny Donaldson concluded: “On the back of this ruling we implore the Government and the criminal justice system to begin the fight-back against terrorism, the time for tough talking is over, tangible support must be given to innocent victims from this point forward. Terrorism was appeased to secure a so-called ‘Peace Agreement’ and it was further appeased to maintain that ‘Peace Agreement,’ now is the time for innocent victims to receive the concern and support of the structures supposedly in place to defend their basic human rights”.

“When we established our Advocacy Support Service we did so with a core objective in mind, bringing about justice, truth and accountability for the innocent victims of terrorism. This ruling represents a significant step but we are very clear as are the families and indeed the wider innocent victims community that the battle is just beginning,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

IVU supports democracy and is pro representation

In the aftermath of the resignation of Barry McElduff there has been significant speculation around the possibility of an agreed ‘Victim’s candidate’ who could contest an upcoming Westminster by-election.

Some have already asked, is such a notion even viable? Others still have suggested that there could be a toxicity to such an approach and then others have begun to speculate as to who a likely candidate would even be.

For us within Innocent Victims United we would appeal for political parties to honestly consider the following questions:

  1. Do they consider victim’s issues receive the dedicated focus they should within Westminster?
  2. Do they consider victim’s issues to be bigger than party political self interest?
  3. Do they believe that West Tyrone deserves representation and a voice at Westminster, particularly as a border constituency around matters such as Brexit?

If the answer to these questions is No, Yes and Yes then a way must be found to secure a candidate who can command respect across the community and truly represent victim’s issues but also issues which impact upon the social-economic wellbeing of West Tyrone inhabitants.

Northern Ireland is balkanised politically at Westminster level, the entirety of the West of Northern Ireland and a substantive section of  the southern corner of Northern Ireland is ‘represented’ by a pro-abstentionist party – Sinn Fein. This means that these communities are without effective leadership at Westminster level – is that really good enough?

We do not subscribe to the view that the election need be toxic, the victim’s issues which would arise within any campaign run way beyond the events of recent weeks.

The issues that require focus include; effective health and wellbeing and welfare services, reparation packages for victims/survivors being progressed, exposing and working towards redressing the justice deficit experienced by victims of terrorism and others impacted by criminal violence proven to be attributable to individual members of the security forces etc.

IVU supports the principle of raising victim’s issues within the political agenda, we also support the principles of democracy and we are pro representation.

Furthermore IVU continues to insist that the means to which we might bring about societal and individual reconciliation requires States, proscribed organisations and their political party annexes to show courage in affirming that:

“We accept that no grievance, enmity or political objective justified the use of criminal violence in what became known as; The Northern Ireland Troubles”.

If this foundation stone was in place then there is the potential to meaningfully deal with the legacy of the past as well as smash the justification for future violence. Let’s be clear violence and civil strife stymied this place and its’ people for generations, isn’t it time that people were given something better?

This is our challenge to the political parties, go now and find a candidate.

Innocent Victims United is an umbrella organisation for 23 member groups base across N.I, RoI and GB and which collectively support over 11,500 individual victims and survivors (including many based within the West Tyrone constituency)

IVU comments ahead of McDonald’s inauguration as SF/PIRA President

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “Mary Lou McDonald’s own fingers have never pulled a trigger nor detonated a bomb however her words and actions in response to those who did continues to have a chilling and deeply damaging impact upon the lives of those innocents who were so grievously harmed”.

“The Sinn Fein/PIRA President in waiting has associated herself with a number of commemorative events to those within The Republican Movement, many of whom were serial killers who murdered their own neighbours because of sectarian and ethnic motivated hatreds. This is certainly the case with a considerable number of those commemorated at the Strabane event where she acted as keynote speaker”.

“Whether you’re an actual terrorist, someone who romanticises or glorifies acts of terrorism or are someone who seeks to dilute the effects of terrorism through explaining it away as an unfortunate yet necessary outcome – you are the problem and not part of a better solution”.

Mr Donadson added: “There are those within ‘Republicanism’ and ‘Loyalism’ who clutch to class warfare, that the violence was an unfortunate necessity due to injustices experienced by the working classes. Whatever of the injustice which existed within this Society or any other Society, morality and respect for the sanctity of human life is not dictated by class background and those who suggest otherwise are insulting tens of thousands of people”.

“IVU continues to insist that the means to which we might bring about societal and individual reconciliation requires States, proscribed organisations and their political party annexes to show courage in affirming that:

“We accept that no grievance, enmity or political objective justified the use of criminal violence in what became known as; The Northern Ireland Troubles”.

“If this foundation stone was in place then there is the potential to meaningfully deal with the legacy of the past as well as smash the justification for future violence. Let’s be clear violence and civil strife stymied this place and its’ people for generations, isn’t it time that people were given something better?”

“This is our challenge to Mary Lou McDonald, to the Sinn Fein/PIRA Movement of which she will soon be President and all other political parties,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

Response to Barry McElduff’s Resignation – IVU

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “Ultimately the right decision has been taken that Barry McElduff would resign, it is regrettable that it took 10 days for this to happen and for the Kingsmills families to have to go through what they have gone through. Painful sores have been re-opened and exposed “.

“Sinn Fein have issued statements in recent days including through Mr McElduff which on the face of it, represents new language in respect of the Kingsmills atrocity. Words are helpful but critically people (particularly victims of terrorism) will judge the Party and Republican Movement through their actions”.

“The Provisional Movement have many more steps to take in respect of Kingsmills but in all cases where the Provisional IRA harmed the community and individuals, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Dissenter”.

“We call in unison with the families for The Provisional Movement to once and for all acknowledge that Kingsmills was a sanctioned attack committed by PIRA members, there is a need for an apology for the damage caused to families and individuals, both through the act of terror itself but also in the subsequent 42 years where the Republican Movement, its’ personnel and supporters have continued to shield the Truth from those left devastated”.

Mr Donaldson added: “Good can yet come from the last fortnight, we repeat our call for a formal acknowledgement from the Provisional Movement and all terrorist organisations and also the two Nation States – UK and Republic of Ireland. The thrust of the acknowledgement would be as follows; ‘We accept that no grievance, enmity or political objective justified the use of criminal violence in what became known as; The Northern Ireland Troubles”.

“If this foundation stone was in place then there is the potential to meaningfully deal with the legacy of the past as well as smash the justification for future violence. Let’s be clear violence and civil strife stymied this place and its’ people for generations, isn’t it time that people were given something better?” concluded Mr Donaldson.

The ‘Past’ cannot be excused – IVU

When Shirley McMichael was appointed to the Northern Ireland Victims Forum earlier this year we were almost the lone voice in questioning that appointment. We had previously also questioned the appointment of PROVO terrorists and/or members of their families.

After reading the interview given by Mrs McMichael to the News Letter last week which focused on the 30th Anniversary since her husband John was murdered we feel vindicated in the stance we took.

Firstly it is important on a human level that we recognise that the McMichael family will grieve the loss of the late John McMichael and we have no doubt that this will have come into sharpe focus as a substantive anniversary is reached.

However we cannot allow the contents of that interview to go unchecked. The theme which ran through Mrs McMichael’s contribution was that of, promoting her late husband’s ‘political’ efforts post his involvement in terrorism as a UDA ‘Brigadier’ whilst skirting over the violent aspects of that organisation and her husband’s close quarters role.

When asked about the many innocent Roman Catholics the UDA murdered, she stated: “It would have been wonderful if there had been a better way. I was a supporter of the civil rights movement but when the IRA violence began it coloured everyone’s judgment. “There could have been a better way. I have talked to the victims of loyalist paramilitaries. My heart goes out to them.”

There was a better way and that was the way which the overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland’s population took, the path of democracy, non-violence and respect for the sanctity of human life.

Mrs McMichael went on to say that she feels “shunned by big house unionists” and “much more at home with republicans,” this statement needs interrogation.

Our organisation is not representative of ‘big house unionism’ but rather is comprised of 11,500 individuals who come from unionist, nationalist and non-aligned backgrounds, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Dissenter and across the class divide.

The commonality these individuals share is an abhorrence and opposition to terrorism and criminal violence, such actions cannot and should not be explained or excused as an inevitable consequence of perceived or indeed real grievances experienced within the Society by any grouping of people.

Many UDA, UVF, IRA and INLA terrorists and/or their families do feel able to be “comfortable with one another” now and why? Because they have convinced themselves that they were fighting a ‘just War,’ that was of neither of their makings. To some degree their warped narratives are dependent on the other’s.

Let’s be clear, in his latter years John McMichael appears to have embarked on a different journey post the violent past from which he came. Is that to be acknowledged? Yes, but more so must those whom the organisation he was a ‘Brigadier’ (terrorist godfather to most of the rest of us) harmed – the very many innocents often murdered because of raw and ugly sectarianism.

Mrs McMichael needs to step beyond solely defending her husband’s legacy to genuinely encouraging those from loyalist terrorist backgrounds to account for their crimes, to express remorse, to repent and to then meaningfully restitute for what they have taken out of this Society.

And this is the commonality shared with republicanism, for they must travel that same journey.

The continued failure to do so means that short of being part of the solution, such mindsets remain an intrinsic part of the problem.

Call for equality around access to justice – IVU

Responding to comments made by Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill that Stormont could be reinstated,
Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “Funding for Legacy Inquests must not be freed up unless and until there are structures established which meaningfully address the access to justice deficit experienced by victims of terrorism”.
“There has been a dangerous piecemeal approach taken concerning investigation of legacy issues, the Coronial Inquest system is part of that problem and mist not be resourced in isolation of other justice pursuit mechanisms being introduced”.
“The vast majority of cases within the coronial inquest queue are cases against the State, whether terrorists killed whilst they were on ‘active service’ or cases where collusion and/or criminal actions are alleged”.
“We desire justice, truth and accountability for all innocents, irrespective of who it was that harmed them – republican or loyalist terrorists or individual members of the security forces. However what we will not tolerate is the creation of a SF/PIRA dominated narrative which seeks to diminish the actions and consequences of terrorism yet denigrate security forces as collectives”.
“The statistics are there to be seen where responsibility lies for ‘Troubles’ related deaths – 90% terrorist and 10% attributable to the State with a much smaller sub-section being criminal-based murder or unlawful killing,” concluded Mr Donaldson.

Call for equality around access to justice

Responding to comments made by Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill that Stormont could be reinstated,  Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “Funding for Legacy Inquests must not be freed up unless and until there are structures established which meaningfully address the access to justice deficit experienced by victims of terrorism”.

“There has been a dangerous piecemeal approach taken concerning investigation of legacy issues, the Coronial Inquest system is part of that problem and mist not be resourced in isolation of other justice pursuit mechanisms being introduced”.

“The vast majority of cases within the coronial inquest queue are cases against the State, whether terrorists killed whilst they were on ‘active service’ or cases where collusion and/or criminal actions are alleged”.

“We desire justice, truth and accountability for all innocents, irrespective of who it was that harmed them – republican or loyalist terrorists or individual members of the security forces. However what we will not tolerate is the creation of a SF/PIRA dominated narrative which seeks to diminish the actions and consequences of terrorism yet denigrate security forces as collectives”.

“The statistics are there to be seen where responsibility lies for ‘Troubles’ related deaths – 90% terrorist and 10% attributable to the State with a much smaller sub-section being criminal-based murder or unlawful killing,” concluded Mr Donaldson.