Press release: February 2nd 2004

Editor – Letters page Speaking at a conference on international
‘terrorism’, Wednesday 28th January in Madrid, Mr. Trimble told the
Associated Press news agency that ‘Human rights groups are complicit in

As a person who has worked tirelessly promoting human rights, and as
the Chairperson Relatives for Justice, I work daily with a cross
section of people whose human rights have been violated. However, for
Mr. Trimble it would appear that many are not the right sort of
‘victims’ – the bereaved and survivors of British State terrorism.
During the course of the conflict the British State acted as judge,
jury, and executioner using both their armed forces and loyalist death
squads to carry out murders. The British courts, and parliament,
provided impunity for sanctioned murder on a wide scale. Mr. Trimble
would rather that the truth about these actions remained buried. He is,
in part for political purposes, trying to shift the focus as opposed to
being real and meaningful about the cause for universal human rights.
As usual with Mr. Trimble we see the blatant double standards.

However, more concerning is that the comments come at a time when there
is scrutiny about the role of the state in numerous murders across the
community. This creates a climate of fear for those working in the
field of human rights and in particular for those families within the
unionist community who already feel isolated and vulnerable. One only
has to be reminded of the brutal UVF murders of teenagers David
McIllwaine and Andrew Robb on February 19th 2000 when Mr. Trimble posed
the theory to the families that maybe republicans were responsible. On
July 4th 2001, after loyalists murdered teenager Ciaran Cummings in
Antrim, Mr. Trimble told RTE Radio that republicans murdered Ciaran and
that it was drug related. Of course all of these allegations were
totally untrue.

No doubt his comments will be noted by loyalist extremists here who
need little justification for attacking human rights defenders and
those in the front line who are trying to expose the truth and seek
justice about state terrorism. I am reminded of Douglas Hogg’s comments
prior to the murder of my friend and colleague Pat Finucane. And of the
remarks by Ronnie Flanagan to the UN Special Rapporteur Param
Cumaraswamy during his investigation into threats to defence lawyers
prior to the murder of our colleague Rosemary Nelson. One wonders about
the real motives behind Mr. Trimble’s comments. I would think that the
comments and accusations of Mr. Trimble would be more aptly directed
elsewhere. Instead of trying to defend the indefensible and running
from the full debate about all human rights abuses during the course of
the conflict we would call on Mr. Trimble to become engaged in the real
business of conflict resolution. His energy would be best spent by
promoting, and supporting legislative change – and other changes –
within our society for human rights protection for all. Part of this
process could begin with examination and identification of the causes,
nature and extent of the conflict with everyone playing a positive and
constructive role where we can collectively learn lessons of the past
and agree that we must ensure it never happens again.

Relatives for Justice Chairperson Clara Reilly