Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Victims' families urge London and Dublin to join Richard Haass talks

Michael Gallagher embraces Ann Travers at Stormont meeting
Michael Gallagher embraces Ann Travers at Stormont meeting

Victims from both sides of the conflict are appealing to London and Dublin to join all-party Northern Ireland negotiations on dealing with the legacy of the past.

The Irish and British governments have insisted it is for local parties to resolve continuing differences on key issues.

The Labour Party has called on the coalition to play a more active role.

Former US diplomat Richard Haass is chairing talks on dealing with contentious parades, flags and the toxic fallout from 30 years of violence.

He has a deadline of the end of this year for his recommendations.

Yesterday, victims met at Stormont to call on politicians to agree new mechanisms to investigate past human rights abuses.

Danny Toland, whose father John was shot dead by the UDA in Eglinton, Co Londonderry, in 1976, said the murder of his father was investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team, but the family was left with more questions than answers as a result.

Michael Gallagher's son Aiden died in the 1998 Omagh blast.

"Victims feel like they have become an unwelcome embarrassment to some politicians in Belfast, London and Dublin," he said.

"I am here today at Stormont to let politicians know that we are not going away and that our call for truth and justice for what happened to our loved ones is not going away."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, said these are the voices to which Richard Haass must listen; the bereaved fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children.

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