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.