26 February 2009 Edition
Call for files to be released on McAnespie murder
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009
BY LAURA FRIEL
THE section on equality and human rights saw delegates debate motions across a range of issues, including the way older people are treated by Government and discrimination and hate speech against people of different sexual orientations.
And, on what was the 21st anniversary of the murder of Aidan McAnespie by the British Army, there was also an emergency motion from Monaghan Comhairle Ceanntair calling on the Irish and British governments to release all files on the 1988 killing.
Proposing the emergency motion Cavn/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
“After many years of official silence, the Historical Enquiries Team of the PSNI has published its report on the shooting of Aidan McAnespie. The HET has found that the version offered by the British soldier who fired the fatal shot was the least likely explanation of what happened.
“The murder of was compounded by the lies that were told by the British Army afterwards. The soldier who fired the fatal shot claimed his finger slipped onto the trigger when he was moving the General Purpose Machine Gun. This lie has been exposed by the HET report. The McAnespie family and the community have been vindicated.
“However, the Crowley Report has not been published. Both the British and Irish governments should release all the information in their possession on Aidan’s murder to ensure truth and justice for his family.
Meanwhile, in the same section, Martina Anderson MLA said that discrimination against people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transvestite community must be confronted under the terms of Section 75 of the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking in support of Motions 13 and 17 and directly to the Ard Chomhairle motion calling for the office of the joint First Ministers to bring forward a sexual orientation strategy that will effectively meet the needs of and tackle any such discrimination, the Derry MLA said;
“Apart from our moral obligations to do this, it also happens to be the law.”
“Unfortunately, as Iris Robinson illustrates, not everyone has fully acquainted themselves with the letter of the law. However, we don’t need to tell anyone in this hall that equality and human rights are a priority for Sinn Féin and we will not allow the opponents of change to defeat that agenda.”
BILL OF RIGHTS
Anderson also endorsed the Ard Chomhairle’s emergency motion for the need for a strong, enforceable Bill of Rights.
“As the international chair of the Bill of Rights Forum has stated, the standard of human rights action in the North is wholly inadequate, in fact it is wholly inadequate across the whole island of Ireland. A strong enforceable Bill of Rights will address that lack of rights protection and bring about the structural changes needed in this society.
“But be under no illusion, those who seek to retain the status quo are opposed to that agenda. That’s why a Bill of Rights and Equality Impact Assessments (EQIAs) have been opposed at every level and the All-Ireland Charter of Rights will face similar resistance. The enemies of change know the potential these bills have, they know that the proper implementation of EQIAs will lead to the resources of the state being redistributed on the basis of need.”
Mickey Brady (Newry), speaking in support of Motion 15 and the rights of older people said older people had made a lifetime contribution to society through taxes, rates, insurance contributions and voluntary work. Yet their incomes were the first to be attacked.
“Sinn Féin ministers in the Six-County Executive have been to the forefront in establishing a Champion for Older People and are seeking to establish a Commissioner for Older People.
“There needs to be an urgent review in the Six and 26 Counties of the standard of living of older people, that includes pension provision, cost of living, access to health provision and fuel poverty which has become a huge problem.
Motions 13, 15, 16 and 17 were endorsed by the Ard Fheis. An amended Motion 14 was also endorsed.
Paul Maskey (Belfast) and Mickey Brady (Newry)