Members of the Victims and Survivors Forum recently spoke on RTÉ radio about their hopes for resolving the issues around dealing with the past in Northern Ireland.
Robert McClenaghan, Paul Crawford, Sarah McGrillen and Niall Ó Murchu were interviewed by reporter John Bourke for the RTE radio programme This Week which was broadcast on Sunday May 7. The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson also shared her views on why measures to deal with the concerns of victims and survivors have not yet been implemented.
Sarah McGrillen’s father, Michael Malone, an RUC officer, was murdered when she was three. She told John Bourke: “We have never received what we deem to be justice or real truth or acknowledgment. There are mechanisms in place for victims, like the HIU (Historical Investigations Unit). It’s really important for us to be able to have a process for us to follow as either victims or survivors of Troubles-related incidents.”
Robert McClenaghan’s grandfather, Philip Garry was 73 when he was killed in the McGurk’s Bar bombing. Robert has campaigned for 45 years to establish the truth about what happened. He told John Burke about his hopes to find the truth on behalf of families whose loved ones were killed. He said he believes the Stormont House Agreement mechanisms are the way to deal with this.
“There are 12 families in our group, some want prosecutions, some want truth recovery (getting access to all the documents), some want their stories recorded for posterity, some want to get involved in the reconciliation processes afterwards," he said
“To me the best mechanisms are there, they’re on paper in terms of the Stormont House Agreement but they’re now being blocked. We would call on the two governments, particularly the Irish government, to help us in getting the Stormont House Agreements mechanisms implemented.”
Also interviewed for the programme was Paul Crawford, whose father John was killed by the UVF in 1974. He was asked about closure and what it would take to achieve that.
“Personally I don’t think closure is a thing that exists because you can’t undo the offence that happened”, he said
“What I am looking for is the greatest degree of resolution that it is possible to obtain and I think that’s much more realistic than this mythical creature called closure.”
He says that a fully functioning Stormont House Agreement could deliver on the truth his family require but a lack of good faith among Westminster and the Iris Government is standing in the way.
Niall Ó Murchu's uncle Ciaran Murphy was killed by Loyalists in 1974 when he was 17 years old. Niall is a legacy lawyer in Belfast dealing with conflict-related deaths and injuries.
He told John Bourke that all victims want answers, but many seek different outcomes:
“Some people I think would like prosecutions, for myself it’s not about who pulled the trigger but who pulled the strings…and there’s a broader picture in that, it’s about truth recovery."
He said that Dublin and London have key roles to play but victims have played ‘second fiddle’ to domestic affairs:
“The two governments are key in all this - the British and Irish governments - in that they are ultimately the guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and guarantors of the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement –the pressure should be on them…My personal fear is that politicians have their heads turned by other matters and victims aren’t high on the agenda.”
To hear the full programme, click here to access the RTE radio player