Dublin ‘falling short’ on Omagh

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) has said that the Republic of Ireland Government has fallen short on its response to a Public Inquiry into the Omagh outrage.

The Tanáiste Micheál Martin said the Irish State would fully co-operate with the Inquiry but ruled out a separate Inquiry to look at its own role and security and investigative deficiencies.

The cross-border aspect to this case was fully mentioned at the High Court in Belfast.

The expectations of victims are clearly for a judicially led process in the Republic of Ireland in parallel to the inquiry in Northern Ireland.

Following the publication of the UK Government’s terms of reference for the upcoming public inquiry, UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “The statement by Mr Martin is disappointing. In our view, a commitment to fully cooperate is welcome but doesn’t go far enough, and the excuse that a separate Inquiry in the Republic of Ireland would overlap and duplicate doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

“What will full cooperation look like? Will the books be open to allow full, unfettered access to security files? Was there surveillance and intelligence on terrorists in the days leading up to the atrocity. Was relevant information passed on in a timely fashion?

“Many terrorist actions in Northern Ireland were planned and carried out from the Irish Republic. We are calling on the Tánaiste to set up legacy institutions and ensure that innocent victims of terrorism are not forgotten.

“Many families are still waiting on answers and feel that they are not being given any priority in the Republic.

“Ulster Human Rights Watch is calling on Tánaiste Micheál Martin to tell victims and their families exactly what steps his Government is going to take to establish and deliver legacy mechanisms equivalent to those set up in Northern Ireland. They cannot remain silent on an issue that is vital for reconciliation and healing.”

UHRW calls for ICRIR to take up Teebane investigation case

Ulster Human Rights Watch will be asking the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) to take up the case of the PIRA Teebane atrocity.

Eight construction workers were killed and six others injured in the Provisional IRA attack in January 1992. No one has ever been charged or convicted for carrying out the outrage.

In 2018, Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman who did not provide the resources to allow the investigation to be initiated.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “This case should now be investigated by the ICRIR to answer important questions concerning the criminal investigation and the absence of protection given to the fourteen Karl Construction employees by the RUC.”

The ICRIR yesterday (Monday, 12th Feb.) announced the appointment of Kate Meynell, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, to chair the Commission’s External Assurance Group to scrutinise the way it carries out investigations.

Mr Schmidt added: “Teebane was one of the worst terrorist atrocities carried out during the ‘Troubles’. Civilians working on the Lisanelly Army Barracks in Omagh were murdered because they were working for the security forces. It was cold-blooded, brutal and senseless.

“For years, the families have been searching for answers about the conduct of the investigation by the RUC. To say that it was insufficient and ineffective would be an under-statement.

“In a detailed file UHRW will pass to the ICRIR, we will ask about the inconclusive police investigation and the nature of security and information-sharing arrangements in place between the RUC and the company to protect the workers as they travelled to and from work.

“Crucially, we also raise the failure to arrest and question some suspects, particularly Suspect 9, despite the fact that he was identified in 1992 and by the PSNI in 2008 as being involved in the murders.

“The view is that RUC Special Branch protected its sources and may have covered one of several State agents who may have been involved … Essential information, that could have led to the prosecution of those involved, may have been withheld by RUC Special Branch. This issue deserves to be thoroughly examined by the ICRIR.”

“If there was any attempt to protect informers, then the families deserve to know the extent of what was involved and why it was more important to protect their identity than bring the bombers who carried out the attack to justice.”

UHRW seeks to be third party in Legacy case in Strasbourg

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) is to seek to become a third party in the European Court of Human Rights case being brought by the Republic of Ireland against the UK Government over the Legacy and Reconciliation Act.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We are on record as saying that the action by Dublin is absolute hypocrisy. The Republic of Ireland was the safe haven from where the PIRA mounted countless acts of terrorism against innocent people in Northern Ireland.

“Terrorists acted with apparent impunity. They could come and go as they pleased, it seemed, without fear of apprehension by the Gardai or prosecution. There’s much that is wrong with the Legacy and Reconciliation Act, but for the Republic of Ireland to mount a case at the European Court of Human Rights is extreme arrogance.

“Dublin should do a little soul-searching before rushing to condemn and challenge the United Kingdom. We want to make sure that the Republic of Ireland is held to account which is why we are seeking to be invited as a third party in any proceedings. In this, we are as one with the UK Government which has already expressed its disappointment over the Dublin Government’s decision.

“Ulster Human Rights Watch deals with a number of cases where it’s clear the inaction, indifference and carelessness of the Republic of Ireland Government, in effect, aided and abetted terrorism. They need to be called out for that and have their own track record held up to critical scrutiny in order to provide remedies to address the legacy of the past in their own jurisdiction.

“While we have serious issues with the Legacy and Reconciliation Act here, it is interesting to note the Republic of Ireland have no structures whatsoever to deal with legacy. Why is this? If the Republic wishes to help victims surely, after all these years, they should at least have some proposals.

“We have communicated our views to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.”

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