Expediency Should Play No Part in Troubles Pensions – Newsletter 23.07.2019

There is something seriously wrong when a suggested remedy on Northern Ireland’s troubled past causes those in greatest need of help to be re-traumatised and hurt.

Hundreds of good people, some grappling with daily anguish and intolerable pain, have been left financially high and dry because of an inability to sort out and or acknowledge the true meaning of the term ‘victims and survivors’.

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW), (a registered charity with the remit of helping innocent victims of the thirty plus years terrorist campaign), believes that a person who was shot, maimed or psychologically scarred by the actions of the gunman or bomber, from whatever side, should qualify for a victim’s or survivor’s pension.

In contrast it also asserts that those who planted the bomb or pulled the trigger do not deserve to be rewarded with State funds for attempting to murder and cause mayhem – they are not victims or survivors. The very people who perpetrated countless acts of savagery deserve nothing. In fact, the bomber whose bomb prematurely detonated, causing permanent disability to himself, should not have any expectation of any State ‘reward’ whatsoever.

This is a matter of what’s right and wrong. And, simply, it’s wrong to include the terrorists in the same category as the people they set out to hurt or kill. The Ulster Human Rights Watch believes that political expediency should form no part of deciding who qualifies for a pension.

The dangers of placating and rewarding paramilitary criminals and giving them equivalence with victims and survivors is an anathema, indeed it is an appalling injustice. All it would succeed in doing would be to cause additional unnecessary suffering and make those innocents who bore the brunt of a monstrous murder campaign suffer further enormous distress and a sense of worthlessness.

There is no other civilised country in the world where terrorists are rewarded for their actions. Why should the UK, and specifically Northern Ireland, decide it can be out of step with international norms by essentially saying the terrorist gunman, wounded during an engagement with the security forces, is now on a par with the soldier or police officer left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a life-changing physical injury?

Lives scarred by terrorism should not have to be re-traumatised in this manner. Any objective assessment will see that turning natural justice on its head in such a hurtful and disrespectful manner is counter-productive and a denial of the truth. The recent revised advice, offered to the Secretary of State by the Victims Commissioner, lacks decency, sensitivity, empathy and respect for real victims of terrorism.

It should and must be rejected by the Government.

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Tribute to William Frazer

The members of the Board and staff of the UHRW would like to express their sympathy to the family of William Frazer and particularly to his wife and son.

Those who met or heard Mr Frazer speak at various events were not left indifferent. He went through the trauma of losing his father at the age of 14, who was murdered by IRA terrorists. This harrowing experience was further exacerbated by the murder of four other members of his family by the same terrorist organisation. Yet William Frazer never engaged in any form of retaliation against those who were responsible for murdering his loved ones or who directed acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland. On the contrary he courageously bore the marks of a victim of terrorism and this led him to take a stand against terrorism.

While he never claimed to be well-educated, and was a somewhat private and unassuming person, one could not help being impressed by his fearless approach of those who opposed his views and his stand. He may not have done all things well and wisely, but he was aware of his limitations. Like other Ulstermen before him William Frazer was his own man, independent minded, who tried to follow the course of action he had chosen to the very end.

For those who believe in God, the sadness of his departure is replaced with the joy of knowing that, since he was also a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is now with the Lord, which is far better.

San Francisco Mayor Apologises

The apology made by San Francisco Mayor London Breed for the outrageous award, commending Martin McGuinness for his ‘courageous service in the military’, is welcomed by Ulster Human Rights Watch. Victims of terrorism and those espousing democratic values throughout society were rightly horrified by such offensive glorification of terrorism, and we hope that this humiliating climb down will also reverse the propaganda value of the award for those who continue to justify terrorism and large scale abuses of human rights as legitimate ways to further political agendas.

While criticism has rightly been directed over the Atlantic, we may forget that the campaign to rewrite history in order to whitewash terrorism, and particularly republican terrorism, as lawful and legitimate, and to vilify the security forces, continues apace. Ms. Breed and her award may be seen as just this – legitimising brutal IRA terrorist activity by redefining it as ‘courageous service in the military’.

By the same yardstick the UK government and authorities have acted no better in playing into this agenda – and there is no apology or change of heart forthcoming here. We have a de facto definition of ‘victims’, in the Victims and Survivors (NI) Order 2006, that makes a moral equivalence between the innocent victims of terrorism and the violent perpetrators of terrorist acts. This also serves the terrorist’s agenda in the rewriting of history, whitewashing their crimes by placing them on the same moral level as those they killed.

The proposed Historical Investigations Unit, as a new body for dealing with the past, seeks to make a moral equivalence between police misconduct and acts of terrorism. Again this is a part of the terrorist’s agenda and the rewriting of history.

The message sent from the decision of the PPS yesterday to prosecute a soldier 47 years after Bloody Sunday, while terrorists are let out of prison on license, have letters of comfort and OTRs, again sends the same message that there was legitimacy to terrorist acts which deserve to be ignored, while security forces who were there to stand between terrorists and society, must be vilified as the criminals and chased to the grave.

San Francisco’s mayor was right to apologise, and maybe she even deserves a fool’s pardon. The UK statutory facilitation of the same agenda deserves no such forgiveness and should be stopped.

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