'Victims' Wing It To Scotland

The contentious issue of dealing with the NI Troubles' legacy is to be discussed - across the Irish Sea.

A Scottish hotel has been chosen for a meeting of almost 30 victims and relatives of those hurt in the Troubles to discuss the needs of those affected during decades of violence.

The newly announced Victims Forum flew straight into controversy as the body's first session to discuss Northern Ireland is to be outside the country.

However, BBC NI relates today that Victims Commission sources said this is because local hotels "had difficulty accommodating a group with so many wheelchair users".

The controversial Victims Forum will be asked for their views on how a victim should be defined and how Northern Ireland should deal with its past.

Their advice will be offered to the Stormont Executive and the Victims Commission itself.

The group is to include former members of the security forces, a former IRA prisoner and victims of loyalist violence.

They include Michael McKinney whose brother William was shot dead by soldiers on Bloody Sunday, Alan McBride whose wife and father-in-law died in the IRA's Shankill Road bombing, and Willie Frazer who campaigns for victims of IRA violence, such as those killed in the Omagh bomb atrocity, (pictured).
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Others include Catherine McCartney, whose brother Robert was beaten to death outside a Belfast bar two years ago, and Mark Thompson whose Relatives for Justice group has focussed on state violence.

Michael Culbert is a former IRA prisoner who was sentenced to 16 years in jail for killing a police officer.

The initial session in Scotland is thought to be a more informal gathering however, with the body's first actual session set to take place in Belfast later this month.

SDLP Equality Spokesperson Alex Attwood has welcomed the formation of the forum but said it must be 'wary' on the outcome of victims' issues.

"The SDLP believe the forum and the Victims Commissioners should acknowledge a potential threat to the truth and justice for many victims and survivors.

"The present British government consultation on the Eames and Bradley proposals may be framed to produce a minimum outcome, one that serves the interests of the IRA, UDA and UVF and elements in society, such as the old RUC, the British Army and others.

"Such a minimum outcome will have little to do with the disclosure of the past and the exposure of those who lead the grave wrong-doings," he said.

See: Eames-Bradley Proposals Slammed


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