Relatives for Justice respond to Paul Murphy

paul-murphyPress release: 1st March 2005

Relatives for Justice respond to Paul Murphy’s announcement of a
‘Victims’ Commissioner’

Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice, said:

‘Today’s announcement by Paul Murphy regarding an appointment of a
‘Victims’ Commissioner’ is a matter of policy and therefore comes under
Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act.

‘Paul Murphy has a Statutory Duty to consult with all those affected and
on whose behalf a commissioner would act. This has not occurred and
today’s announcement is in breach of Section 75 and the Good Friday
Agreement. No one affected by British State violence has been consulted
with regard to the appointment of any commissioner.

‘We note that a consultation on these issues has been released today
however, it is a consultation simply on the role and remit of a
commissioner not on whether a ‘Victims’ Commissioner’ should be

‘Relatives for Justice have consulted with families throughout our
community, especially those families who lost children at the hands of
the RUC and British army. The clear view from these families is that
there exists no desire for the British government to appoint a
commissioner particularly as it was the British government who were
responsible for the killing of their loved ones. Instead families want
outstanding issues such as truth and justice to be comprehensively dealt
with in an independent, transparent and accountable manner.

‘Today we once again note that Paul Murphy has undermined this pivotal
area by postponing any consultation on dealing with past, ruling out any
remit for a commissioner in terms of addressing these needs, whilst
promoting a role for the PSNI’s Serious Crime Review Team. While
acknowledging that the role of the British government has not been
‘neutral’ Paul Murphy indeed highlights the whole contradiction in this
entire process. In our view this underlines the need for a completely
independent process.

‘It is no coincidence that today’s announcement comes at the same time
when the British government are introducing new plastic bullets and
dismissing the role of the Policing Board. Moreover, the EU Council of
Ministers today released a statement giving the British Government 9
months to respond properly and comprehensively to a European Court
ruling which found that the British government had failed to properly
investigate a number of killings in which its forces were involved.

We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Equality Commission in
view of Paul Murphy’s failure to consult and failure to comply with his
statutory obligations contained in Section 75.