Terror victims have welcomed an event in Cookstown this week in which they had the chance to question six would-be MEPs about their stance on victims issues.
Over 100 terror victims attended the event at the Royal Hotel in Cookstown, organised by Innocent Victims United (IVU). The group asked the politicians to sign a contract on victims issues, affirming that violence for political ends was never justified.
June McMullan, whose husband John Proctor was murdered by the IRA in 1981 welcomed the chance to engage. Last year saw Seamus Martin Kearney, 57, from Maghera, given a life sentence for murdering her husband, an RUC reservist, as the policeman left hospital after visiting his new born son.
“One of them [the politicians] signed the contract on the spot but the others have until Wednesday,” she said.
“There was a lot of talk from them that was probably not what we wanted to hear. We pressed them on what they were going to do for us.
“One of them said that the government saw us as an embarrassment. Another assured us that we were high up the government’s list of priorities - but as victims we probably don’t see it that way.
“I felt that some of them veered well away from the questions that we asked them.”
Stephen Gault, who lost his father Sammy in the 1987 IRA Poppy Day bombing in Enniskillen, was impressed with the event.
“It went very well,” he said. “The victims got their points across very well and the politicians gave their responses.
“It was very dignified.”
IVU spokesman Kenny Donaldson said the aim was to focus on victims’ issues.
“From now on the political parties cannot take us for granted,” he said.
“This time political parties will not be telling us what to do. From now on the victims will be directing politicians as to what they need. There has been a sea change in views.”