9 August 2007 Edition
March for Truth : Exposing Britain's war of terror
Wear a Black Ribbon for Truth — Adams
This Sunday’s annual August national march in Belfast has as its theme ‘March for Truth’.
On Tuesday at a press conference which was also attended by representatives of all of the victims’ groups who have endorsed the march, and by victims and relatives of victims. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams appealed for everyone to wear a Black Ribbon on the day of the march in solidarity with the families of victims and as an expression of support for the campaign for Truth.
“The objective of the march is to draw attention to the major issue of collusion and British state violence, and the administrative and institutional cover-up by the British government and its state agencies, of a policy which resulted in many thousands of victims who were killed or injured or bereaved.”
The Sinn Fein President said that “there must be no hierarchy of victims. The relative of an IRA Volunteer is as entitled to compassion and respect as is the relative of someone killed from within the British state agencies. And the relatives of those victims whose deaths have not been acknowledged by the state have a right to the truth and to have their loss acknowledged by the state.”
Adams said that the imperative for truth was self evident from the recent decision of the Public Prosecution Service not to prosecute anyone in the Pat Finucane case. “This is just one of many hundreds of examples of a cover-up by the state.”
Adams was also critical of the British government’s recent establishment of a consultative group to examine the past and to deal with the legacy of conflict. While acknowledging the honourable intentions of its members Adams said:
“We will not deal with the issue of truth by a British Secretary of State in the last two days of his tenure bringing in the type of study group that he did. I have problems in relation to its remit and my strong suspicion is that this is really about stringing out this issue and wasting time.
“Some of the victims groups are looking at the creation of an international based, independent Truth Commission and that is something that Sinn Fein will look carefully at.
“However, what is clear is that any process of truth and reconciliation must be victim-centred. Victims have a right both to acknowledgement of their pain and to contribute to a changing society. And full co-operation and disclosure by all relevant parties is essential to the success of any truth process. An objective of any process should be healing – both for victims and for society in general and crucially a truth process needs to examine ‘the causes, nature and extent’ of the conflict and that all processes should be informed by a desire to learn the lessons of the past so that mistakes will not be repeated.”
Sunday’s march will have three departure points in North, West and South Belfast and will proceed to Belfast City Hall for a rally.
Speaking to An Phoblacht West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann said that the Sinn Féin objective in the pursuit of the truth is to get the British government to admit that British state murder was official policy in the North.
“The combined actions of the British State and unionist paramilitary death squads are responsible for 1,414 deaths; 363 people died directly as a result of actions perpetrated by the RUC and the British Army – 75 of which were children. Additionally, loyalist paramilitaries have claimed the lives of 1,051 people. There exists clear and irrefutable evidence of collusion by the RUC/British Army and unionist paramilitary death squads in many of these killings”, she said.
“The decision by the Public Prosecution not to prosecute anyone for the murder of Pat Finnucane is just one indication of the need for the truth to be revealed.
“There was also the issue of the gun used in the Sean Graham Bookmakers massacre. It was acknowledged that the gun had been given to the RUC by a UDA agent and then returned later to the UDA and subsequently the weapon was used in the murder of five people in the Graham bookmakers incident and it was also used in an attack on the Devenish Arms bar”, McCann said.
“State collusion has been at the core of very many killings in the Six Counties over the three decades of the conflict and in recent times a series of reports by the Ombudsman’s office into scores of killings have exposed the extent to which British intelligence, MI5, the UDR and the RUC Special Branch managed the death squads, provided information, supplied weapons and gave training in the use of those weapons.
“The Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan did a report on RUC agent Mark Haddock and the conclusion of the report was to the effect that he was a serial killer and an agent who was allowed to kill people with the knowledge of RUC Special Branch. There’s been no prosecutions and we want the truth behind all these killings to be acknowledged by the British. There’s been an attempt by the British to have us move on and leave these incidents in the past. They want to bury the truth. But victims’ groups want the British to admit the truth – that the killings of all those nationalists was official state policy” McCann said.
“This week also marks the anniversary of internment when 26 people were killed, 11 of them from the Ballymurhpy area alone. While there is awareness of internment itself, people forget about the killings that occurred at the onset of the arrests. The families of these victims are also looking for acknowledgement of the hurt caused to them and this year also marks the 25th anniversary of Britain’s shoot to kill policy in Ireland.
“In preparation for this year’s national rally different areas have been asked to promote different themes. The Falls area for instance has taken up the issue of party members who were victims of State violence – people like Sheena Cambell, Councillors Eddie Fullerton and John Davy. The Upper Bann region – North Armagh have taken up the shoot-to-kill issue and Derry will be promoting the push for independent inquiries to be held on all the issues.
“During over three decades of conflict successive British governments employed shoot-to-kill operations; rubber and plastic bullets; counter-gangs directly run by MI5 and others, as well as the various unionist paramilitary organisations to wage a war of terror against the nationalist and republican people. Collusion and the use of counter-gangs were an intrinsic part of British policy and was authorised at the highest levels of the British state and in some instances the orders to kill came directly from Downing Street. In fact if you look at the poster advertising Sunday’s march you’ll see that it’s in a pyramid format with an illustration of 10 Downing Street at the top and that’s where the responsibility lies”, McCann said.
The march will be addressed by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice, Amanda Fullerton, daughter of assassinated Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton, and Margaret Urwin of Justice for the Forgotten which campaigns for the truth about the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.