Jim Allister: When victim makers must be at heart of government it is no surprise that innocent victims are losers in legacy

All seats were taken at the charged legacy meeting at the long gallery in Stormont, on July 30 2018
All seats were taken at the charged legacy meeting at the long gallery in Stormont, on July 30 2018

After taking part in panel at Stormont on Monday which discussed the legacy proposals currently out for consultation, I was given the opportunity to make some closing remarks at a meeting attended by in excess of 100 innocent victims of terrorism.

The anger in the meeting was clear throughout.

Campaign on steps of Stormont before the legacy meeting inside, in which victims hold HET reports into the murder of their loved ones - reports with which they were all unhappy. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Campaign on steps of Stormont before the legacy meeting inside, in which victims hold HET reports into the murder of their loved ones - reports with which they were all unhappy. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

This is how I summed up the issues:

“When you take the victim makers to the heart of government and establish a system which doesn’t allow a government unless they are at the heart of government it should be no surprise that the losers are the innocent victims.

“That’s why we’ve been seeing OTR letters and the failure to pursue terrorists who double up as politicians by day. Why? Because the process requires to be protected.

“These proposals are a product of that process.

The politicians present all said they had been struck by the raw feeling at the victims' event at Long Gallery Stormont. From left Dolores Kelly of the SDLP, Jim Allister of TUV, Dr Cillian McGrattan, chair of the event, Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionist Party and Paula Bradshaw of Alliance

The politicians present all said they had been struck by the raw feeling at the victims' event at Long Gallery Stormont. From left Dolores Kelly of the SDLP, Jim Allister of TUV, Dr Cillian McGrattan, chair of the event, Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionist Party and Paula Bradshaw of Alliance

“They are, as the Secretary of State’s forward says, about a bill to establish the Stormont institutions, the HIU and the other three institutions which were agreed by those political parties at the heart of the Stormont House Agreement, the DUP and Sinn Fein. That’s what they are about. Some tonight might like to distance themselves, may like to pretend they’re not their proposals. Sorry. These are the Stormont House proposals fleshed out and the Stormont House proposals are the Sinn Fein / DUP proposals.

“They are built on that most iniquitous foundation — the protection of the victim makers, the promotion of the victim makers and the equivalence of the victim makers with their victims.

“It is scandalous that we reached an agreement without any requirement from Unionists that the definition of victim had to be changed as a precondition to agreeing anything. Until that definition is changed there will never be a foundation for justice for any innocent victim because the law says that you’re exactly the same in the eyes of the law as the vile creature who made you a victim.

“And the Victims Commissioner operates on the same principle. Which is why a victim maker stays on the Victims Forum and a helpless little man from Carrickfergus who was a victim had to leave the forum. Because of the iniquitous equality between victim makers and victims.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

“There was an opportunity at Stormont House, there was an opportunity at Hillsborough, there was an opportunity at St Andrews to say there will be no agreement about anything until the definition is changed. But the harsh truth ladies and gentlemen is that the political expedience of the moment matters more than you do.

“And until that is addressed you will never get justice.”

Jim Allister MLA, North Antrim