Response to the Report by Bertha McDougall on services for Victims and Survivors


Speaking in relation to the report by Mrs Bertha McDougall regarding services for victims and survivors RFJ spokesperson Mark Sykes today made the following points: 

  • A number of individuals had sight of the report last night. Mrs Brenda Downes was not furnished with a copy of the report when it appears that other victims received advance copies. This is yet another snub to her.
  • The appointment of Bertha McDougall was politically motivated. Mrs. McDougall was a DUP nominee and was appointed on that basis by Peter Hain without due regard to Section 76 and other potential candidates.
  • A core demand of the DUP has been the establishment of a special fund for the UDR/RIR – Mrs. McDougall’s Report recommends the establishment of such a fund mirroring DUP demands.
  • Singling out a State actor to the conflict that has taken many hundreds of lives through official collusion is disturbing to say the least. The UDR/RIR were a sectarian militia and Mrs. McDougall should reflect on this particular recommendation.
  • Many families find this completely offensive and consequently feel excluded, their experience at the hands of this notorious sectarian organisation not being taken into consideration at all.
  • Rather than supporting victims and survivors needs across the community equally Mrs. McDougall has managed to resurrect the hierarchy of victims reinforcing the hurt and pain of so many families affected by state violence.
  • This hierarchy is a failed agenda of the past and her report was an opportunity to address disparity. Unfortunately this was an opportunity lost.
  • In this regard her report underlines the fact that the appointment could not command cross-community support – a fact underlined by the courts when determining the appointment as being illegal. The hundreds of families affected by State collusion will conclude that once again we have a deliberately flawed process that reflects the views of many unionist victims. 
  • Today’s report is published in the name of the Interim Commissioner for Victims and Survivors – this violates the High Court ruling and is indicative of how there has been total NIO and British government disregard for anything other than DUP and unionist victims’ demands.

Mark Sykes is a survivor of the UFF gun attack on the Sean Graham’s bookmakers on the Ormeau Road on 5th February 1992 in which UDR collusion is evidenced.