19/06/2003

Mother hits out at NIO Minister's meeting rejection

The mother of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride has hit out at the refusal of NIO Minister John Spellar to meet her.

Jean McBride called for a meeting with Mr Spellar following his recent appointment as NIO Minister because he had sat on the Army board, which, according to Mrs McBride had "allowed the two soldiers who killed her son to be allowed to remain within the British army".

This decision was last week deemed wrong by the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

Mrs McBride said that the appointment of the minister was putting her family through further suffering.

Mr Spellar, however, said he deemed it "inappropriate" to have a meeting with Mrs Bride because of the possibility of further legal action.

SDLP Leader Mark Durkan has already criticised the appointment of Mr Spellar as Criminal Justice, Equality and Human Rights Minister, describing the move as "questionable".

Mr Durkan said that the Minister's role in the ruling was wrong given that "he saw fit to set aside clear convictions of murder and the judge's findings that both [soldiers] had lied about Peter McBride's killing".

"This all showed a complete disregard for the human rights of Peter McBride and his family. Compared with other cases it shows a complete inequality of treatment. We therefore also have to question the decision to give him Human Rights and Equality in his Ministerial portfolio," he added.

Mr Spellar has said that it would be more appropriate for Mrs McBride to meet with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy or meet Victims Minister Des Browne.

But Mrs McBride has already said that she does not wish to meet any other Minister as she was "tired of simply being portrayed as a victim".

(MB)

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