Irish Republican News · October 24, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

The appointment of a trustee for the former RUC police as the North’s new Victims’ Commissioner has been met with dismay by nationalists.

It is understood the British government will today confirm Bertha McDougall’s appointment to the key role working on behalf of victims of the conflict.

Mrs McDougall’s husband Lindsay was killed in an ambush by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast city centre in 1981.

The appointment of Mrs McDougall, who is a trustee of the RUC George Cross Foundation, was clearly a political appointment made to appease unionists.

Pressure is growing for the appointment of a second commissioner in a bid to ensure the interests of all victims of violence are represented.

Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said the needs of all victims had to be addressed.

“The appointment will isolate victims of state and state- sponsored violence. Her appointment is not independent and it will be seen in the context of the overtures being made to the DUP as part of a wider political settlement.

“In terms of building confidence, we would call for the role of Victims’ Commissioner to be filled by two appointees from across the community, thereby assisting in building trust and addressing the needs of all victims. We also call for legislative powers which work in the interest of all victims.”

The Victims’ Commissioner currently has no powers to probe truth and justice issues relating to state-linked murders. Sinn Fein’s victims’ spokesperson Philip McGuigan says he will request a meeting with the new commissioner.

“Sinn Fein have concerns about this appointment. It is obvious this appointment is a political sop to the DUP and the issue of victims is much too important to be treated with political expediency,” he said.

“I would imagine the unionist community would be concerned if the Victims’ Commissioner came from the republican community. We can’t allow a hierarchy of victims.

“A champion of victims’ rights needs to be able to convey independence and there have been a lot of victims created at the hands of British state forces, including the RUC. It’s easy to understand the concerns within the nationalist and republican community about this appointment.

“I intend to ask for a meeting with Mrs McDougall as soon as that can be arranged.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News