1st March 2005
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 appointed.
‘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.