Ruth Dudley Edwards might change her mind about the Wave victims’ group if she visited it

A letter from Rev David Clements:

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:41 am
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 10:34 am
Letter to the editor

I can’t remember the last time I disagreed strongly with something that Ruth Dudley Edwards said or wrote. Her attack on Lord Hain requires some response (‘Hain again shows a tin ear for victims of terror,’ May 18, see link below).

She quotes him saying on UTV of the victims’ group Wave “They are the one broadly-based cross-community support group that I think command sufficient credibility and support to be listened to”.

How this is ‘patronising’ or ‘tin eared’ or as a headline in this paper last week called it ‘an insult to victims’ requires some explanation.

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The phrase “the one broadly-based . . .” could mean the one and only — to the exclusion of all others. Ruth and others have heard it so, and taken offence. It could equally well be taken to mean the one group ‘par excellence’ that the Secretary of State should engage with on legacy is Wave.

That Wave are waiting six months for a promised follow-up meeting with the SoS is the valid point Peter Hain was making.

To illustrate the point further. Ruth describes Wave as a ‘worthy’ organisation. Now, there is a word that needs parsed!

I am inclined to believe that she means it in the best possible sense, unless any evidence to the contrary emerges.

Ruth is mistaken in her belief that Wave supports Hain’s view on legacy. Personally, I have some sympathy with him on this, but I am a minority view within Wave (for clarity, readers should know that I have been involved in Wave for about 28 years and am the longest serving board member.)

It is not for me to defend Peter Hain’s record as Secretary of State — if he wants to, he is well able to do it himself. A lot happened during his time — both good and bad. (IRA decommissioning, first Victims’ Commissioner appointed, OTR letters, appointment of Eames/Bradley — I could make a long list!) Exactly what Peter Hain’s role was is above my pay-grade. At the time he did not strike me as particularly sensitive to victims’ issues, unlike Peter Mandelson (Ruth is quite right here). In my view the gold medal goes to Adam Ingram, albeit as junior minister.

Whatever about his role 15 years ago, your readers should know that without the work of Lord Hain in the House of Lords there would be no ‘Injured Pension’ for people permanently injured, through no fault of their own, as a result of the Troubles.

I note Ruth’s desire to be fair, if she would like to visit the Wave Injured Group (who have spent 13 years working for this pension) she might have a Mo Mowlam like change of mind with regard to Peter Hain.

Rev David Clements, Cullybackey

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