Tube revelations bring back painful memories for families
Campaigners for people whose relatives were killed by British forces during the conflict have called on the British government to learn from mistakes made here and end their shoot-to-kill policy.
The call comes after leaked documents contradict the official account of how British police killed Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes, having mistaken him for a suicide bomber in London last month. Amongst the revelations arising from the probe into Mr Menezes' death are suggestions that he was restrained before he was shot by officers at a London tube station on July 22.
Chairperson of Relatives for Justice, Clara Reilly, said that the British government should desist from continuing a policy which caused such grief for families in the North.
"Given the latest facts to emerge of what occurred in London, and given the judgement of the European Court of human rights in 2002, when the British government were unanimously found to be in violation of Article Two, the right to life, RFJ now call on the British government, instead of defending the indefensible, to acknowledge and learn from past mistakes made in the North of Ireland and agree on measures to make sure that it never happens again."
Clara Reilly was joined in signing a petition against the shoot-to-kill policy by Michael Reilly, brother of Thomas 'Kidso' Reilly, who was shot dead in August 1983 by the British army, and Brenda Downes, the widow of Sean Downes who was killed in August 1984 by an RUC plastic bullet fired at close range.
The Menezes killing bears some similarities to that of Thomas Reilly in that they were both unarmed, innocent men who posed no threat to the public or security forces, and became victims of a shoot-to-kill policy. Thomas' killing happened on a hot summer's day when he was stripped to the waist, and therefore not concealing a weapon.
Thomas exchanged words with some British soldiers before running away from them up the Springfield Road in the direction of Turf Lodge. Private Ian Thain took aim and shot Thomas in the back, killing him instantly. Pte Thain became the first soldier on duty convicted of murder in the North. It later transpired that he had been released and reinstated in the army after serving only two years and four months of a life sentence.
Clara says that Thomas' murder is one of many which will be painfully relived by the bereaved families in light of Mr Menezes' death.
"The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in London brought back the painful memories for many families who have lost loved ones in numerous shoot to kill instances, claiming hundreds of lives spanning three decades here.
"The misinformation and lies immediately released to the media brings back memories of such incidents as the Gibraltar killings and that of Peter McBride," said Clara Reilly.
Chilling echoes of shoot to kill