Dissident event cancelled following UHRW calls

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Pleas are being made today for the 30th anniversary of the killing of IRA terrorists Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew on 9th October, not to be celebrated with a display of apparently un decommissioned weaponry.

Ahead of this event, the family of a UDR soldier, assert that weapons displayed for this anniversary in previous years are a match to those used as detailed during the inquest, and suggest that both McCaughey and Grew, along with others, may have been involved in the ambush.

They state, “Calls we made for police to seize these weapons while on display in 2010 and 2011 were simply ignored. We have good reason to believe that these are the guns used by the East Tyrone terror gang in this murder and represent potentially valuable forensic and ballistic evidence. They must be also taken off the streets if police intend to keep people safe”.

The arsenal, consisting of at least 15 weapons ranging from assault rifles to pistols, has been displayed in the past by the Cappagh-Galbally 1916 Society with apparent impunity, with videos of the arms haul posted openly on YouTube.

Human rights organisation, Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW), representing the family of Sgt. Jamison say that to display murder weapons is not only an outrage, but  is also massively painful for families.

Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Support worker, Jonathan Larner, said: “Every time these weapons are put on show they cause the bereaved families great distress.

“To put an arsenal of guns on display to glory in the terrorist killings they were used for is secondary victimisation and causes severe pain and distress to the IRA victims’ families. Such exhibitions should not take place in a democratic society, and the 1916 Society must be prevented from doing this”.

He added, “We appreciate the fact that the new Head of Legacy Investigation Branch, Det. Chief Superintendent Rowan Moore, has given the family a specific assurance that if these weapons are put on display again they will be seized. The family expects the PSNI to honour and uphold this commitment”.

IRA weapons could still be in circulation, warn victims

Published in Belfast Telegraph – click here to read

Terror victims fear weapons formerly used by the Provisional IRA in east Tyrone, and believed to still be in circulation, may find their way into the hands of dissidents, it has been claimed.

Weapons were displayed previously on the anniversaries of the deaths of two Provisionals and a loyalist bar attack, and there is no evidence they were destroyed, according to Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW).

Jonathan Larner, an advocacy worker with UHRW, claims the PSNI has not made any effort to find or seize the weapons or ammunition, which were displayed at a memorial for PIRA members Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew, shot dead by undercover soldiers in Co Armagh in 1990.

Guns, including AKM assault rifles, were also reportedly displayed in 2011 on the 20th anniversary of the UVF attack on Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh, in which four people died.

Larner believes the weapons may reappear at a gathering to mark the 30th anniversary in October of the deaths of McCaughey and Grew.

He noted recent reports suggesting that in MI5 recordings, alleged members of the New IRA had revealed their frustration at not being able to access weapons once under the control of the Provisionals.

This, he added, suggests there is “un-decommissioned weaponry out there”.

The recording was made as part of an MI5 surveillance operation that has seen a number of people charged with terror offences.

Larner said: “Ten years of effort by the family of one victim to see these weapons removed from circulation has been ignored by the PSNI, with the initial request to seize the weapons made while they were still on open display in Galbally.”

The PSNI could not immediately respond to the allegations yesterday.

Following the display of the weapons, the family of one PIRA victim complained to the Police Ombudsman, who carried out an investigation.

“Shockingly, the Police Ombudsman reported to the family in 2016 that police had made contact with the owner of the weapons only to confirm that they were ‘deactivated’ and ‘certified’,” Larner said.

“Police had described the terror arsenal as ‘items’ in a ‘virtual museum’, with officers suggesting to the family that images of guns in the display were ‘photoshopped’.”

Larner claims that police, in a letter to him, denied making any contact with those believed to be holding the weapons, which “leaves them having actively ignored an openly displayed haul of terror weapons and paraphernalia”.

“Police inconsistency and inaction is hardly ‘keeping people safe’.

“As well as demanding action from the police, Ulster Human Rights Watch are calling upon those in possession of these guns not to bring them out on October 9 for the 30th anniversary of the McCaughey and Grew killing, and to contemplate the continued suffering inflicted on victims’ families by such a horrific event,” Larner added.

“Given police inaction, we also call on the Secretary of State to consider reconstituting the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), in line with provisions made in Paragraph 51 of the IICD Final Report of 2011, in order to ensure that all terrorist weapons, including those of the East Tyrone PIRA arsenal, are properly decommissioned.”

Victims’ group seeks meeting with Justice Minister over Troubles pension

Ulster Human Rights Watch will ask whether interim payments can be made to victims before Christmas.

A victims’ group is seeking a meeting with Justice Minister Naomi Long over a payment scheme for the injured.
Ms Long has warned it could take up to 18 months before payments are made, as well as estimating the cost of the scheme at £800 million.

The figure has been questioned by some, including the Wave Trauma Centre, whose chief executive, Sandra Peake, said the majority of those who will qualify for the payments were injured during the 1970s and 1980s and “few will still be receiving a pension in 30 years’ time”.

In July the Executive Office estimated the scheme would cost £165 million.

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) is set to ask Ms Long whether interim payments can be made to victims before Christmas.

UHRW advocacy manager Axel Schmidt described the 18-month wait for payments as “hard to fathom”, adding that many innocent victims will be “further disappointed and incensed”.

“Why will it take so long? Surely the minister and her senior civil servants have put all the necessary building blocks in place so that further unnecessary and bureaucratic delays can be avoided?” he said.

“Ulster Human Rights Watch would like to think the Justice Department could open a dedicated section within the department to fast-track applications, assess claimants suffering from psychological conditions such as PTSD, and get payments made a lot sooner than 18 months.”

Mr Schmidt said he also has questions about the funding of the scheme, the Victims’ Payment Board and government guidance.

“We know the minister is sympathetic to the plight of innocent victims,” he said.

“Surely, it is possible for the department to set up an interim payment process where victims could be awarded a one-off sum of £2,000, which could be paid before Christmas.

“Such a gesture would be well received and be a tangible demonstration of goodwill and understanding towards victims.”

The scheme was due to open for applications at the end of May but was held up over disagreement around who should qualify for the payments and whether Westminster or Stormont should pay for it.

The Stormont Executive was forced to move to nominate a department to administer the scheme following a High Court ruling last week that the ongoing delay was unlawful.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill was highly criticised by the judge for refusing comply with a legislative requirement to set up the scheme to gain political leverage over the UK Government.

The joint legal challenge was brought by Jennifer McNern, who lost both legs in a Troubles bombing in 1972, and Brian Turley, one of the “hooded men” who were arrested and interrogated by the British Army in 1971.

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