Staunton - we must continue to expose collusion
Thirty years ago on the 3rd of February 1973 six nationalists were murdered in the New Lodge area.The British Army were directly responsible for the murder of four of the men while there is strong evidence to show that they were also deeply complicit in the murder of James Sloan and James McCann.
The British army maintains that they shot six gunmen in the area despite countless eyewitness accounts and forensic data countering these claims. There is also substantial evidence pointing to collusion between the British Army and loyalist paramilitaries.
This was premeditated mass murder of innocent Catholics in the New Lodge and shows clearly that Bloody Sunday was clearly not an isolated incident. For over thirty years of conflict British state forces have lied, impeded investigation, allowed forensic evidence to vanish without trace or reason, and have refused to co-operate outright with investigations into State killings. This tactic remains as strong today as it did thirty years ago.
The families of those murdered in hundreds of other such incidents through out the six counties must have justice and closure. They have faced the double injustice of having a loved one murdered and also facing a regime that is intent on denying them a voice or platform when they demand justice.
The British state is guilty of denying the most basic human right, that of the Right to Life through a myriad of actions. Whether it is shooting dead with a plastic bullet twelve-year-old Carol Anne Kelly with a plastic bullet as she went for milk for a neighbour; watching on as a young man from Portadown, Robert Hamill, was brutally kicked to death by a gang of loyalists; the shooting in the back of a nationalist father of two, Peter McBride, as he walked away from a British Army stop and search patrol or the shooting dead of three unarmed volunteers, Mairead Farrell, Dan McCann and Sean Savage by the SAS as they held their hands in the air, this right was denied and lies were told to protect the perpetrators.
This however does not include the most sinister of actions. That of collusion and cover up. Slowly but surely the facts that republicans were already well acquainted with - that British state forces sanctioned, trained, armed and provided intelligence to loyalists deaths squads - is being opened up. MI5, The FRU, Special Branch and other such agencies have manipulated and maintained loyalism as a paramount counter insurgency method regardless of the right to life. The state is guilty, up to the highest levels, of covering up these actions in order to protect its own interests.
It is an indictment on the British government that the families of those murdered through the actions of the State have had to pursue justice on their own or through domestic campaign groups against a silent wall of securocrats and civil servants.
The Good Friday Agreement asserts, "It is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation." The British government must recognize this as an integral part of the agreement and move to fulfill its obligations.
There is no construction of a victim. Those killed by the British state forces are as equal in death, as they were in life, to any other victim of this conflict. The way in which the British government has approached and addressed this issue is criminal and downright insulting to the memories of those who have died at the hands of the State.
We as a party and all those within our communities who have lived this for over thirty years know what we have to do. The British government will not concede any acknowledgement of wrongdoing or release any information without pressure. At all levels we must continue to expose this and in the end win justice for those that the British government and their agencies have sough