Irish Republican News · January 31, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Four Victims' Commissioners named
Four Victims' Commissioners named

Sinn Féin and the DUP have rejected claims that four new victims' commissioners were named this week because the First and Deputy First Ministers could not agree on a single person.

The appointment of a new Victims' Commissioner became necessary after a High Court ruling that the British government's initial appointment of RUC police widow Bertha McDougall was based on "an improper motive" -- an overt political concession to the DUP.

The new appointment, which required agreement between Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and DUP leader Ian Paisley, had been delayed by several months. Eventually, McGuinness and Paisley named four commissioners instead of one: Bertha McDougall, the original commissioner; Patricia MacBride, whose brother was an IRA Volunteer shot dead by the British Army's SAS; former TV anchorman Mike Nesbitt; and Brendan McAllister, the director of 'Mediation Northern Ireland'.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, denied allegations in the Belfast Assembly that there had been a difficulty in making the appointment.

"We never at any stage of our deliberation had a situation where the first minister proposed someone and I proposed someone as an alternative, it never happened," he said.

"I know some people may greet this with incredulity but I think it's a symbol of how he and I do the business in terms of moving forward."

Mr Paisley said they wanted to bring together the talents and skills of candidates who applied for the position to form a panel.

"Our belief is that a team of four commissioners working together - in essence a victims' commission - is the best way forward," said the DUP leader.

"Given the significant backlog of urgent work and the range of difficult challenges that face us in this area, these four people will have much more capacity to engage with victims and survivors than a single commissioner."

Before the appointments can be ratified the Assembly will have to pass a bill creating a victims' and survivors' commission.

However, the appointments will likely be delayed further following a controversy over the wording of one press release announcing the appointments.

A statement which described Patricia MacBride's brother as "an IRA volunteer killed on active service" has angered unionist sensibilities and prompted a group of victims to seek a judicial review.

© 2008 Irish Republican News