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.

La Mon Remembered

On Friday 15 February 2019 a commemorative event for the victims of the La Mon House Bombing took place in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council attended by The Right Worshipful the Mayor, Councillor Uel Mackin.

The service of remembrance took place amidst beautiful sunshine outside Council Headquarters in front of a bench dedicated to the memory of the twelve victims who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Mr Mayor read the names of the victims and two bunches of flowers were laid on the bench and in front of it, one by Trevor, the grandson of Mr James Mills who lost both his wife and sister in the atrocity, and the other by a representative of the Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Service who has been supporting the victims in their quest for truth and justice.

According to the wishes expressed by Mr William McDowell, whose wife was one of the most seriously injured and who passed away in 2013, the Advocacy Support Manager for the Ulster Human Rights Watch, Axel Schmidt, delivered a short address to the people assembled. He spoke on the basis of the last verses of the book of Ecclesiastes (Chap. 12 v. 13-14). The proceedings were concluded with the Lord’s prayer being recited by all those in attendance.

This was the 41st Anniversary of the La Mon House Bombing, when on 17th February 1978 the IRA planted a bomb outside the restaurant that exploded with a napalm effect. The fire spread so rapidly that twelve people remained trapped inside the building and lost their lives. Twenty-three others were injured, some very seriously. To this day the victims of the terrorist attack remain scarred physically and emotionally.

The office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) has just confirmed that the complaint lodged by the victims in this case will be the first to be investigated as soon as an investigation team is available to do so.

Teebane Remembered 20/01/2019

On Sunday afternoon, 20 January, around 40 people, adults and children, gathered at the roadside on the A505 between Omagh and Cookstown in front of the memorial that reminds all passers-by of the awful tragedy known as the Teebane Bombing, that happened 27 years ago. The PSNI had diverted the traffic so as to enable the commemoration service to take place in a quiet atmosphere on this cold but clear day.

On 17 January 1992, at about 5.10pm, the Tyrone brigade of the Provisional IRA detonated a bomb planted on the side of the road just as a Mercedes van transporting workers from Karl Construction was approaching the Teebane junction, about 16 miles from Omagh in the direction of Cookstown. Fourteen workers were travelling home in the van from Lisanelly Army Barracks in Omagh when the device exploded, killing seven men instantly and wounding seven others. One of the wounded never regained consciousness and died four days later in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Eight men in all lost their lives in the attack.

The bomb contained 300-500 lbs of home-made explosives packed into two blue barrels. It was detonated from a power source located at the vantage point, 230 metres up the hill overlooking the road that the van was due to travel. A command wire was hidden in the field along the Loughdoo Road under loose grass, connecting the detonator within the blue barrel to a battery pack which was the power source for the device. The bomb created a crater 6.4 metres in diameter and 1.4 metres deep in the grass verge on the side of the road.

The murdered men were David Samuel Harkness, William Gary Alexander Bleeks, John Robert Dunseith, John Richard McConnell, Cecil James Caldwell, Nigel William John McKee, Robert Irons and Oswald Wilson Gilchrist.

The fourteen employees had been working on a security force contract at the Lisanelly Barracks. Over the previous twelve months they had been travelling in a van belonging to Karl Construction, using the same route between Magherafelt and Omagh every working day, morning and evening. The road had not been secured by the RUC against a terrorist attack.

No one has ever been charged for the murders of the eight Karl Construction workers. A complaint lodged by victims was accepted within the remit of the Historical Investigation Directorate of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in September 2018 and will be investigated in due course …

The commemoration service was conducted by the Reverend William McCrea, who preached about the need to remember those who were murdered by IRA terrorists on that day. He emphasised that the duty of remembrance must be passed down from one generation to the next so that young people may prevent the tragedies of the past from being repeated in the future. He stated that if those who planned and perpetrated that wicked act are not caught in this life, they will face a day of accountability before the God of Heaven.


Letter to Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

One consequence of the lack of government in Northern Ireland has been the suspension of requests for copies of inquest and court files from PRONI under the Privileged Access Scheme, and now the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It is the view of UHRW that this is unacceptable to victims and potentially a breach of procedural obligations under Article 2 of the ECHR. Please view of letter to Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP raising this very important issue.

Letter to SOS 10-12-2018

UHRW Submission to Legacy Consultation

The NIO Legacy Consultation Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past finally closed today. Following detailed analysis of these proposals and widescale consultation with victims of terrorism and other stakeholders, Ulster Human Rights Watch believe that as they stand, these proposals will be detrimental to the interests of innocent victims and will only serve to further the interests of the perpetrators. The system on offer will facilitate the rewriting of history to justify acts of terrorism, and activate a state sanctioned witch-hunt of ex-security force members, particularly ex-police officer. UHRW call for a withdrawal of these proposals, and have set forward what we believe will be a viable alternative that would put the needs of the victims of terrorism first.

UHRW response to NIO legacy consultation

NIO Legacy Consultation Questionnaire – Proposed Responses

Following the conference organised by Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW), which took place in Brownlow House on 30th August 2018, several people requested to be provided with summary responses to the NIO questionnaire. In answer to these requests the NIO questionnaire with the proposed responses in italic has been prepared. It should be noted that the proposed responses are to assist those who wish to answer the questionnaire and who remain free to use/amend them as they see fit. For further information please do not hesitate to consult the Legacy Consultation Booklet and the Legacy Consultation Conference Presentation.

The proposed responses to the NIO questionnaire along with our Legacy Consultation Booklet, the Legacy Consultation Guidance Notes and the Legacy Consultation Conference Presentation can be found in the Downloads section.

UHRW Legacy Consultation Conferences at Brownlow House

Two conference sessions have been held today in Brownlow House to present UHRW’s considered position on the NIO Legacy Consultation into the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement bodies. Contributing were Neil Faris of the Malone House Group; Ben Lowry, Deputy Editor of the Newsletter; and Axel Schmidt, Advocacy Service Manager. There were also personal testimonies of victim’s with views provided on the current consultation, and extensive question and answer sessions.

The presentation from this event along with our legacy analysis booklet and guidance notes to support consultation responses can be found in the Downloads section.

NIO Legacy Consultation

UHRW are preparing a response to NIO Legacy Consultation.

This will be discussed further at meetings to be held in Brownlow House, Lurgan on 30 August at 10.30 and 18.30. Please contact the office by email for details.

Read more on the Legacy Consultation page.

Submission to the NI Affair Select Committee

On 13th June 2018, UHRW made a submission to the NI Affair Select Committee inquiry into the Consultation into the Stormont House Agreement.

You can download and read our submission on our Downloads page.


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