Victims' Families Need Closure - Ahern
Closure must be given to families of victims killed in collusion-linked
bombings and shootings before the General Election
expected in May or June, the Government said tonight.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot
Ahern both met in
with seven groups affected by 1970s atrocities north
and south of the Border.
The relatives are calling for public inquiries and believe
their cases have been strengthened by last month's report
by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan which revealed collusion
between the RUC and loyalist gunmen in several killings.
Mr Ahern said after today's 90-minute meeting: "The
Taoiseach indicated that he would like to deal with this
before the General Election."
It also emerged today that Sinn Fein is holding its first
meeting next week with PSNI Chief Constable Sir
Orde since it made the historic decision to back
The party is also holding a collusion conference in Dublin
on Saturday. Among those meeting the Taoiseach were relatives
of members of the
Showband, the 1975 Dundalk and Silverbridge bomb and
gun attacks, the Reavey and O'Dowd families who each
lost three family members in early 1976, and relatives
of the victims of bomb attacks in Castleblayney and
Keady in 1976.
The daughter of a man killed in the 1975 bombing of Dundalk
pub, Kay's Tavern, revealed that the incident still causes
her nightmares. Margaret English, daughter of
Watters, said she believes the case of her family has
been strengthened by the revelations in the Police
Ombudsman's recent report.
"It is shocking that the British government sent out agents
to kill my dad. I find that unbelievable," she said. Mrs
English also claimed that her family was badly treated by
the Garda and the state over the incident, but added that
the Taoiseach apologised for this today.
She agreed that there should be a compensation scheme set
up for victims of collusion. "I still have nightmares. I
remember running around the streets looking for my dad.
There is a very human aspect. "At the time I was bitter but
my mother said to me if I was bitter I would kill myself
from the inside so I just shut everything out."
Mr Ahern said that the Government was waiting for a report
by barrister Patrick MacEntee on the
and Monaghan bombings — due on Tuesday.
Mr Ahern said: "He may ask for another extension, we hope
not but obviously that is a matter for him. If we get that
report in February, we will have to have a debate in the
Oireachtas and then decide what to do. "About 3,000 people
were killed in the Troubles and each of those families have
stories to tell.
"We are pushing the British very strongly on the need to
give comfort to these families in some way, it may not satisfy
everyone, but to draw a line under these cases once and
for all. "All of these cases are going to dog the peace process
and (British-Irish) relations forever if we don't deal
with them one way or another.
"There is a willingness to cooperate as much as possible.
If you look at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, it has gone on
for nearly nine years and had half a billion pounds sterling
spent on it." He said the victims' families would be
consulted before any action was taken.
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