Victims’ Commissioner Kathryn Stone last night made clear that she will not be resigning over the controversy following her comments about whether members of the groups most responsible for Troubles deaths were terrorists.
Ms Stone released a statement in which she said: “As commissioner it is my role to reflect the voices of all victims and survivors. It is my duty to do so to fulfil the obligations laid down in statute.
“That means that I must reflect views that some find unpopular or unpalatable.
“It is not my role to make legal or political statements or judgments about innocence or guilt; about whether the peace building and conflict resolution centre [at the Maze] should go ahead or not; or whether the Special Advisers Bill should proceed or not. Those decisions are for politicians. What I can do is acknowledge the deep hurt caused to so many in this society by violence. The commission completely condemns all violence.”
Ms Stone added: “I was appointed by the first minister and deputy first minister to ensure that the voices of all victims and survivors from all sides of the community are heard. I am not a politician. I shall continue to fulfil my statutory responsibilities.”
TUV leader Jim Allister, who had called on Ms Stone to resign or be sacked by Peter Robinson, has written to the commissioner to say he was “appalled” to read her comments in the News Letter.
Mr Allister said: “Terrorism is not defined by what ‘some people’ say about it. It is, thankfully, defined by the Terrorism Act 2000.”
He asked Ms Stone whether she accepted the law, which stated that the IRA and UVF were terrorist groups: “If you do not clarify your remarks on what constitutes terrorism immediately I believe that you should resign as commissioner as you cannot claim to be a voice for victims without being able to say that those who made them victims were wrong to do so.”