A man whose father was murdered in the IRA Poppy Day bomb has slammed a Sinn Fein MP for appealing to the Liberal Democrat party conference about miscarriages of justice.
Speaking before travelling to the conference in Glasgow yesterday, Conor Murphy MP said he would be raising the “considerable public concern” that people who have suffered a miscarriage of justice could soon be blocked from getting compensation if they cannot actually prove that they are innocent.
And he promised to highlight the need for Liberal Democrat MPs to support changes to a Bill currently going through Westminster in order to address his concerns.
“The British Government is seeking to change the law significantly and clause 143 of their Bill would put the onus on the individual seeking compensation to prove themselves to be innocent,” the MP said. “A miscarriage of justice would be categorised as such ‘if and only if the new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that the person was innocent of the offence’.”
Mr Murphy claimed that the changes would mean the cases of the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven, the Cardiff Three and Judith Ward would not satisfy the proposed innocence test.
But Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was murdered in the IRA Enniskillen bombing in 1987, responded that Mr Murphy and others “just don’t get it”.
He added: “The greatest miscarriage of justice to occur was the ‘God-like position’ adopted by terrorists who decided who should live and who should die.
“What about the miscarriage of justice daily faced by those families whose loved one(s) were stolen from them and who 25, 30, 40 years later still have not saw someone apprehended and convicted for their criminal deeds?
“Will senior republican figures ever face up to the travesty of justice that they and their ideology inflicted on the people of Northern Ireland and further afield?” he asked.
Meanwhile, a rift has emerged over the future of the Lib Dem-Tory coalition after Business Secretary Vince Cable suggested it was “certainly possible” the alliance could end in the months leading up to the 2015 election.
Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander insisted that the coalition would last for the duration of this Parliament and dismissed Mr Cable’s concerns about the state of the economy and housing market.
Mr Alexander indicated that a break-up of the coalition could put the recovery in jeopardy and the Lib Dems were “not going to walk away”.
He told Sky News: “This coalition will continue until the end of this Parliament, as we promised, for the very simple reason that we have a very big job to do to clean up the economic mess that Labour left behind and to entrench the recovery that we are starting to see, to make sure that we create the jobs in this country that need to be created, that we deliver the big tax cuts for millions of working people that we promised, that we continue the process of sorting out the financial system.”