Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Hanson to meet with victim over OTR bill

The following piece is from a press release that I was more than happy to publish. I support Aileen Quinton 100 per cent.


On Wednesday morning Security Minister David Hanson will meet Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta was murdered in the Poppy Day Massacre in Enniskillen. MPs Iris Robinson, Mark Durkan and Lembit Opik will also attend.

Ms Quinton said: "I will be seeking an explanation from Mr Hanson about the callousness and indifference to victims welfare that the Government has demonstrated during its entire mismanagement of the proposed legislation for On-the-Runs and I will be emphasising that the damage caused by this continues even though the bill has been withdrawn."

"It is hard for the voice of victims to be heard at any time, but in the run-up to the NI (Offences) Bill they were actively ignored and even suppressed apart from cheap words about how difficult this would be for us. There was no attempt to assess the impact on victims, never mind measures to assist or help them cope. But there was unquestionably an impact, and it continues. There was no meaningful consultation on an Equality Impact Assessment screening, which apparently concluded that the only people impacted were the perpetrators."

"People who had suffered trauma were re-traumatised all over again as it became clear that the government was putting the interests of perpetrators ahead of the interests of victims. I have been told of cases where emergency (private) psychiatric appointments have had to be arranged to as a result of the impact of this new trauma. Many victims who were witnesses to the events that brought the terror to their door, were distraught to learn that they might be called into court while admitted perpetrators of the most horrible crimes could sit at home and wait for their licence in the post."

"The government said it was obliged to bring in the bill because of a deal it had done with Sinn Fein. They never offered a deal to the widowed and orphaned, to the limbless and mutilated and those whose mental health has been compromised. They said it was unfinished business which was essential to the peace process, but what sort of peace is it that puts truth, justice and the welfare of victims lower in the pecking order than the perpetrators. The emotional trauma in NI due to the terrorism has never been properly grasped, not just for the bereaved and injured but also for witnesses, often children and those enduring prolonged intimidation. The social consequences of this, perhaps for generations cannot be overemphasised. The implications for those with hidden disabilities is also not being properly addressed. My previous campaigning against the legislation focused on the truth and justice issue. However even if this legislation was in anyway justified or necessary, which I totally reject, to bring it in without having any real consideration of the impact, and putting in measures to mitigate the most serious consequences, (apart from that on the Government), does not just indicate a deficit of humanity but also of sound business management."

"Even when the bill was withdrawn, it was explicitly done at the behest of perpetrators and those who represent their interests. There was no change of heart, no admission that this was a bad or immoral plan. So it hasn’t gone away. The fundamental government principle of putting perpetrators ahead of victims continues, and will reappear unless there is a change of heart and change of approach."

"Our Government has added insult to our injuries many times and my surprise each time is a testament to the triumph of hope over experience. Hearing the Secretary of State and others offer ritual expressions of sympathy to victims as they tried to push their bill through was to witness cynical manipulation in the extreme."

"I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want a shoulder to cry on or a pat on the head. I want truth and justice primarily and also I want victims to come before perpetrators and I am clearly not alone in that. That is the message I hope Mr Hanson will take back to the Secretary of State and the rest of the Government."

Ms Quinton said she had asked the MPs to attend as a non partisan group, who will be in a position to hold the Government to account on across-the-board victims issues in the future.



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