Speaking during a debate in the Dublin parliament on the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O Caolain said it was “a disgrace” that the 26-County Government had cut funding for the only victims’ group in the State, Justice for the Forgotten.
The group - which represents victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings - has called for access to information which could prove that the British state forces colluded with the unionist paramilitary UVF to mount the attacks, in which 33 people died and 300 were wounded.
Mr O Caolain said it was “equally disgraceful” that the Taoiseach Brian Cowen had failed to raise with the British prime minister the parliament’s unanimous call for the British government to provide an international judicial figure with all the files in its possession relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the other fatal acts of collusion in the 26 Counties.
He said the Taoiseach “could not wait for the ink to dry on the Saville report before inviting the English queen to visit but he made no effort to progress that unanimous Dail resolution by pressing the issue with the British government.
“We know from the history of the Bloody Sunday relatives’ campaign how the British system works so assiduously to conceal the information in its possession.
“Persistence has paid off before and it is required again to vindicate the families who have been campaigning so long and hard under the banner of Justice for the Forgotten.”
Four relatives of victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings attended the debate on the Saville report.
Opening the debate, Mr Cowen said that for the Bloody Sunday families, “the scars and the pain of their unspeakable loss were made worse by the inquiry chaired by Lord Widgery which blackened the names of innocent men.
“The campaign to repudiate the Widgery report’s status as the official version of events lasted 38 years. It ended on June 15th. The families can now say that the world knows their loved ones are innocent, that their killings were unjustified and unjustifiable.”
Mr Cowen read into the Dail record the names of all 14 men and boys fatally injured on Bloody Sunday. He said “their innocence is forever inscribed on the pages of the history of Ireland.” He said it was “fitting” that “their innocence is today formally placed, once again and for all time on the record of Dail Eireann.”
Meanwhile, a report by the North ‘Commission for Victims and Survivors’ said both governments had a joint responsibility to come to an agreement on a way forward by 2011.
It said there was a “need for the British government, acting with the support of the Irish government, to press the political and civic leadersof Northern Ireland to agree structures to deal with the past, beyond the current arrangements of the Historical Enquiries Team and the Police Ombudsman”.
Their advice was given to First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson yesterday. However, within hours of being handed the document, Mr Paterson signalled that the British government would keep at a distance.
“We cannot impose. It is up to those in Northern Ireland to work together to decide a strategy to going forward,” he said.