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Early on Friday evening Relatives for Justice Chairperson Clara Reilly and Director Mark Thompson met with DCAL minister Caral Ní Chuilin. Minister Chuilin provided RFJ with copies of inquest papers and a trial transcript concerning 3 conflict related murders to which RFJ had previously provided Freedom of Information requests on behalf of families.
Minster Chuilin advised RFJ that the delay in providing the papers was due to a number of public interest tests and that she had been satisfied having conducted these that the bereaved families’ requests should be met. Minister Chuilin informed the RFJ Chair and Director that she had sought the legal advices of the Attorney General who supported the view that she should release these papers to the families.
The resistance to release came from the PSNI, the HET and the NIO. On receiving the papers on Friday evening RFJ’s director visited the 3 families concerned, passing on the information they had requested.
RFJ learned on Saturday that the British Secretary of State and the Chief Constable had sought an injunction preventing the copying or disseminating of the papers.
Commenting on this RFJ Director Mark Thompson issued the following statement
‘The inquest documents and trial transcripts are already matters of public record having been heard in public courts and reported in the media. RFJ and the families cannot understand why a British Secretary of State and a Chief Constable would attempt to put an injunction on materials already public.
‘Over the past decade when supporting families it has been standard practice for RFJ to make requests such as this. We have never encountered any problems like this
‘We view this as a method of harassment and intimidation of families bereaved seeking basic information concerning the killings of their loved ones.
‘We also view this as interference in the process of truth recovery and families’ right to know what happened to their loved ones.
‘This too has wider political implications for the democratic process whereby the decision of an elected minister and the devolved executive’s legal advisor is being challenged in such a ludicrous way concerning public documents.
‘This approach however by the Secretary of State and Chief Constable is consistent with the British Government’s position of denying families the truth.
‘That the Chief Constable would be involved in such a process in such a way given the recent HMIC report into the HET which found the HET policy and practice of preferential treatment to British solders involved in killings, shielding them from accountability, adds insult to injury.
Josephine Larmour daughter of Sarah Larmour concluded the statement by saying:
‘I am absolutely appalled that the organisation that supports me and solicitor working for families would be brought to court when the people who murdered my mother and those within the British security forces who colluded with the killers should be the ones before a court.’
Patrick McAdorey killed by British army on 09/08/1971
Sarah Larmour killed by UVF on 03/10/1979
Michael Donnelly killed by British army on 09/08/1980
Note that two of the three families received the documents on the anniversary of their loved ones’ deaths