7 August 1999:
Justice For The Forgotten welcomes Wilson Report
Justice for the Forgotten - the relatives and victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bomb outrages welcome the report of the Victim's Commission Mr. John Wilson, which was published on Thursday last.
We applaud and commend Mr. Wilson for a very good report and we endorse a great many of the findings and recommendations he has made.
It is clear that Mr. Wilson entered upon his task with great sense of sympathy for the plight and circumstances of the victims of violence in all their different circumstances and with great sensitivity for the complex issues that he encountered.
Accordingly, in particular, we support the conclusions and recommendations made by Mr. Wilson in paragraph 4(1) of his report where he highlighted the need for long-term care and treatment for the traumatised and isolated victims of violence.
We support with certain reservations the commission's recommendations with respect to financial support and compensation for victims of violence. We believe that the compensation awarded to the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings should be subject to a radical reassessment. At the time when awards were made, no regard was taken of the long-term post-traumatic stress that was sustained and is still being suffered by victims and relatives having regard to the appalling circumstances of the bomb outrages in Dublin and Monaghan. Indeed, the Victim's Commission has dealt with long-term medical issues in his report at paragraph 4.3 and we commend his recommendations.
We are without reservation deeply disappointed that Mr. Wilson has chosen to recommend a private inquiry as distinct from the public inquiry which has been sought by Justice for the Forgotten in it's campaign going back several years. We welcome the endorsement and inclusion of the terms of reference we had submitted to him for such a public inquiry.
Having regard to Mr. Wilson's findings in page 16 of his report, we find it odd in the extreme that he did not see that the logical conclusion to be drawn from such findings was that any inquiry to be undertaken into the circumstances of the bomb outrages and the adequacy of the security response thereto north and south of the border should be in public. Justice for the Forgotten will be consulting with the Government, With the Taoiseach's office and with the inter-departmental committee established by the Taoiseach to examine the modalities of establishing an independent and public Tribunal of Inquiry. We are prepared to concede that there may be issues which the Tribunal of Inquiry may have to deal with other than in Public. Mr. Wilson himself explained at the press conference on Thursday that he believed that there may be individuals who would be prepared to come forward and give evidence in but not do so in public.
If by this Mr. Wilson is concerned for issues of personal security of potential witnesses or issues of national security, we are prepared to admit the possibility of such evidence being dealt with other than in public.
However, any tribunal of inquiry that is established must have the power to compet the attendance of witnesses and not merely seek their assistance as volunteers to the process.
All evidence given to such an inquiry should be subject to being examined and cross-examined by the legal representatives of the victims.
Justice to be done must also be seen to be done. For those who have been abandoned by the police and justice system in this state for twenty-five years. Any inquiry which compromises the principles of openness, transparency and accountability will not have any credibility. The victims and relatives require vindication-such vindication can only come from an open process in which they can fully participate.
The structure of the inquiry proposed by the Victims' Commission does not and will not have the support of the victims and relatives.
Justice for the Forgotten welcomes the recommendation of the Victims' Commission that any inquiry established will examine the Garda files and that relevant material therefrom would be made available to the legal representatives of Justice for the Forgotten or to the European Court of Human Rights.
Just two weeks ago, Justice for the Forgotten was informed by the European Court of Human Rights that it had rules that the complaints taken by a group of the relatives were inadmissible on the basis that the complaints had not been filed within six months from the date of the atrocities or in any event within six months from the date of the broadcast of the programme on the Independent Television "Hidden Hand-The Forgotten Massacre".
As the Government is aware, new material became available to the Committee in March of this year. This material points to the active involvement of the agents of the
United Kingdom in planning and executing the crime. The suspicion that this is the case is referred to in Mr. Wilson's report at page 16. However, this new material identifies individuals who were serving members of the security forces operating with the authority of the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland.
Accordingly, having regard to this new evidence, the relatives and victims will be forwarding fresh claims to the European Court of Human Rights claiming against the United Kingdom primary breaches of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Such applications present a number of technical difficulties which we are none-the-less confident of overcoming. The first such difficulty is the issue of exhausting effective local remedies. Therefore, the victims and relatives propose to institute individual proceedings against the United Kingdom for damages, including exemplary damages for the loss of lives and for the personal injuries sustained by the wounded. This is a legally unprecedented step. Relatives and victims have been advised however that it is a necessary step and it is intended that the cases against the United Kingdom will be prosecuted with vigour.
Having regard to the recommendations of the victims commission, we call upon the Irish Government to support the victims and relatives in their pursuit of Justice and to co-operate with us in bringing forward these cases either in Ireland or in the European Court of Human Rights. At the same time, Justice for the Forgotten will work diligently with the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish a properly constituted Public Inquiry to ensure that the truth about the massacres in Dublin and Monaghan and about the compromised police enquiries into these massacres is brought out and made known.
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