It’s shocking that the Special Representative on UK victims of Libyan-sponsored terror met Sinn Fein but not IRA victims

The recent Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee (NIAC) session which involved evidence given by William Shawcross was borderline farcical.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 3:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 3:57 pm
William Shawcross giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

It is shocking that Mr Shawcross, who is Special Representative on UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism, was actively dissuaded from meeting with victims groups who support the innocents of such terror.

Yet it was viewed appropriate that he meet with a party long considered to be the political wing of PIRA, Sinn Fein, who have many senior representatives who were active leaded within its terror campaign and in some cases may even have been directly involved in the deals with the Libyan administration around the securing of semtex and other killing material.

Who advised Mr Shawcross not to speak to victims or the core groups who have supported them for two decades and more in pursuing these issues?

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It is patronising that the reason given for non-engagement was that “expectations would be raised”. Mr Shawcross does not know he cultural environment we operate within very well — victims and survivors have come to realise nothing is certain, they are far from naïve.

We requested an engagement session with Mr Shawcross which was not facilitated and nor were we reached out to by him despite the fact that we are the largest consortia of organisations supporting the innocents of terrorism.

We should never have been in a position to beg him for a meeting, the process should have demanded that respect be given of our credibility and the constituency of people whom we support.

This is a common thread of government, the criminal justice system and indeed our churches, little pro-active engagement happens from their part, we almost always have to initiate contact.

It suggests a pre-determined agenda and a culture in which victims are marginalised — not one that is victim centred.

We believe that the language chosen by Mr Shawcross in the NIAC would indicate that the UK government wanted him to ‘hush up’ this issue.

Increasingly it looks probably that this is down to two core reasons — the UK state’s economic and security interests but also its cowardice around the potential unearthing of material which could be embarrassing to the leadership of Provisional Sinn Fein.

Today I will be giving evidence to the NIAC alongside two victims/survivors to discuss the compensation issue.

Innocent victims/survivors of terrorism will regroup and along with others will determine our next step. There are legal issues to explore concerning the interest accumulated on frozen Libyan assets and decisions taken by government around the expending of these monies.

The UK government holds the key to unlock the process through the use of its veto on the UN Security Council, no Libyan frozen assets should be released until there is an agreement around the compensating of those impacted by their former leader’s international campaign of terror, exercised in the UK by his sub-contractors, PIRA.

Victims haven’t gone away you know.

The UK’s prevaricating has meant many have gone to their graves never seeing accountability or justice served in these issues but there are still victims and their representatives who will continue to insist that it does the right thing.

The UK state is becoming a cold house for innocent victims/survivors of terrorism. Public policy is not led by the over-arching need for justice to prevail.

In many ways the damage of the terrorism inflicted upon victims continues to be felt through a state that is unwilling to stand for the rights of innocents.

Kenny Donaldson is spokesman for Innocent Victims United, an umbrella body of 24 groups supporting over 12,500 individual victims/survivors

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