Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Truth and justice for the victims of British terrorism

Daily Ireland:

Relatives of people murdered as a result of collusion between British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in the North of Ireland are to meet Irish President Mary McAleese later this week.

Organised by the justice group An Fhírinne, the meeting will give relatives an opportunity to tell the president their individual stories.

Among the group will be Belfast man Billy Campbell, whose 21-year-old son Gary was gunned down by the Ulster Volunteer Force in November 1990.

The father of one was watching television in his New Lodge home in the north of the city when two men burst into the living room and shot him twice in the chest. The victim’s partner and young child were both in the house at the time.

Weeks after his murder, the UVF falsely claimed the young man had been a member of the IRA.

Three weeks after the murder, the gun used to murder Gary Campbell was also used to kill Raymond Robinson at business premises close to the Antrim Road. Again, the UVF falsely claimed the dead man had been in the IRA.

A former UVF commander from Mount Vernon in north Belfast is understood to have been a member of the hit squad that murdered Gary Campbell.

The former commander is believed to have been involved in almost a dozen sectarian murders across the district in the 1980s and early 1990s. The loyalist killer is widely believed to have been an RUC Special Branch agent at the time that Gary was murdered.

Billy Campbell, Gary’s father, said: “Gary had only been in that house for a few weeks before he was killed. The man who lived there before him was also called Campbell and was always getting hassle from the army and police. I think they believed this man still lived in that house when they went there that night. I believe that Gary was killed by men who were supplied with information from the security forces.

“The car used by the gang to kill Gary was never found. That is very strange. I never heard of the getaway car not being found before. What were its movements before and after Gary was killed? That is just one of the questions that remains unanswered.”

Billy Campbell said the pain of his family’s loss was still evident, even today.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I remember it as clear as the day it happened. I spoke to him shortly before he was killed and he said he was coming around to my house to watch the football. The first I knew he had been shot was when a neighbour came to my house to tell me.

“My brother Sammy, his wife Colette and another man were killed when a British army Saracen ran them down in 1975. When I went to the Mater hospital to see about Gary, the same doctor that cared for Sammy came to me and said the exact same thing to me in the exact same place almost 15 years later and I knew my son had died.”

The grieving father said it was vital that the truth be revealed of the circumstances leading to his son’s death.

“Most of these people are forgotten victims, remembered only by family members. But, for us, it’s very important to highlight the cases again and demand explanations for the circumstances leading up to them. With the help of local organisers like Seán Kelly, people are able come together in An Fhírinne and campaign. I have been to London and Brussels and I hope to explain my circumstances to the president of Ireland. Four people in my immediate area were the victims of collusion. Throughout the New Lodge, there have been between 80 and 90 people impacted as a result of collusion.

“It’s not just about my son. Everybody involved in this campaign needs answers. Many people don’t want to drag up the past because it is a painful thing. But there are others who do need answers. All we are asking for is truth and justice. For many, they don’t want big showdowns in courts. All they need is the British government to acknowledge that it had a part to play in the murder of innocent people. Simple truth and justice, that’s all we ask.”

Unfortunately, the world media is unlikely to give these people the same level of coverage that they gave to the McCartney sisters.


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