3 July 1997 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

US Congress hears human rights testimony

On Tuesday 24 June in Washinton, DC fourteen members of the United States House of Representatives heard testimony on human rights violations in the north of Ireland The hearings were convened by the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights.

Two panels testified before Congress. The first was comprised of experts in the field of human rights including Maryam Elahi, Government Program Officer for Amnesty International; Julie Hall of Human Rights Watch; Michael Posner of the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights; Martin O'Brien of the Belfast based Committee for the Administration of Justice and Stephen Livingstone of the Department of Law at the University of Nottingham.

The second panel included individuals whose lives have been directly affected by human rights violations in the north.

Michael Finucane, the son of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane gave moving testimony of how his father was killed by a loyalist death squad and the family's suspicion that he was the victim of a conspiracy going to the heart of the British state. He told Congress that suspects being interrogated in Castlereag holding centre were told by the RUC that Pat Finucane was going to be shot. Then three weeks before the killing, Douglas Hogg, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, said in the British House of Commons, ``I have to state as a fact, but with great regret, that there are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA.''

Jim Kelly, the father of Sean Kelly who has been held for more than seven years is one of the Casement Accused, also gave evidence, as did Brenda Downes, an activist with the Campaign to Ban Plastic Bullets. She gave emotional testimony about the murder of her husband John by a plastic bullet. Accompanying Brenda was Brid Groves, the daughter of Emma Groves who lost her sight when hit with a plastic bullet while listening to Irish music in the living room of her home.

The final testimony was given by Ed Wallace, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Mary Paglione, National President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1