Speech in the Seanad “Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland: Statements”

I thank the Tánaiste for coming to the House and taking this important debate. I know the case of Patsy Kelly has been raised already. That is only one of the many legacy issues. They are referred to as legacy issues but they are still murders. They are simply uninvestigated murders in many cases. A historical inquiries team was set up to investigate many of these but they really should be murder inquiries. We saw recently the decision by the British Government to only prosecute one of the paratroopers involved in Bloody Sunday. It is amazing that the British justice system could convict the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven with no evidence when, with 14 dead bodies, the same system was unable to convict paratroopers involved in Bloody Sunday.

Along with my colleagues I was up in Belfast for the Ballymurphy inquest. It is amazing that an inquest would take so long to be carried out after people were murdered. We will no doubt see a similar farcical process of alleged British justice when it comes to prosecutions in that case. Prosecutions for murder in Northern Ireland seem to depend on whether the person involved was wearing a British uniform.

We also see other legacy issues, including a request from the loyalist side for the Taoiseach to support Raymond McCord. The point is that the Government would not be seen to be partisan in respect of who it seeks justice for because there are people who were murdered in the loyalist community too. Raymond McCord wants the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to seek a full independent public inquiry into the murder of Raymond McCord Jr., who was killed on the instructions of a paid informer of the RUC special branch. This was done under Operation Ballast, which was a major inquiry by Nuala O’Loan, the then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. As we all know, it found widespread collusion between the UVF and UDA and the British security services and RUC special branch.

That collusion went all the way to the top. When we are looking for an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, we should also seek public inquiries into events such as the murder of Raymond McCord. It is clear that he was murdered. There was a dead body. Everybody knows who carried out the instructions and the murder, yet nothing is happening. Justice is constantly denied to both communities by a system that seems incapable of addressing the most fundamental right of any family which has lost a loved one, namely, that they would get justice and the truth. However, the truth is being denied, as we see in the case of Patsy Kelly, where evidence uncovered in recent years has been withheld from families to ensure that justice is not done.

We need the Government to ensure that there are inquiries into the cases with which we are all familiar such as the Ballymurphy massacre and the murders of Patsy Kelly, Pat Finucane and others. It should also ensure that other families, such as that of Raymond McCord, get the justice they deserve in regard to these issues. We often discuss legacy issues, but these are murders that have never been investigated properly and for which, as a result, there has been a failure to prosecute. This is due to a systematic process within the British Government whereby it is waiting for people who should be prosecuted or who have evidence and would be able to assist in prosecutions to die, with the effect that justice will be denied to the families who are so entitled to it after all these years.

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