Belfast Telegraph

Mansfield offering Northern Ireland Troubles victims false hope, says son of woman killed in UVF bomb horror

By Allan Preston

A man whose mother was killed in a UVF bombing has said one of the UK's leading barristers is offering Troubles victims "false hope" by telling them they will get justice through sheer persistence.

Jude Whyte's mother Peggy died in a 1984 explosion in Belfast and her murderers have never been caught.

On Tuesday Michael Mansfield QC - who previously represented the families of the Hillsborough football disaster - was in Belfast to speak at an event marking 45 years since the McGurk's Bar bombing of 1971 in which 15 people died.

The bomb was originally described as an accidental "own goal" by the IRA - leading to speculation some of the victims inside were IRA members. It was later proven to have been set by the UVF, and a man was jailed.

"McGurk relatives are facing the same challenges as the Hillsborough relatives. Truth comes to those who persist," he told a packed audience in St Mary's College on the Falls Road.

Mr Whyte said "this sort of stuff should stop immediately - high profile QCs coming here and effectively giving people false hope".

"I've never met Michael Mansfield, but I think his view is delusional and it gives victims a sense they will get their day in court and all will be rosy," he said.

"I don't think that's going to happen. In short, I do believe the line should be drawn in the sand."

Mr Whyte has long called for a reconciliation forum for the Troubles, where those involved can tell the truth without fear of prosecution. Last week some families of those who died in the McGurk's bombing demanded that restricted material from the original investigation should be released. The grandson of one of the victims handed Chief Constable George Hamilton a copy of a heavily redacted military log that he claims proved the authorities knew early in the investigation that the bomb had been left at the doorway, rather than detonating in the possession of someone inside.

Mr Mansfield said the families had uncovered a "golden bullet" that should lead to a new inquiry.

But Mr Whyte said the political will for such a move didn't exist.

"They won't, because if they did it would destabilise the peace process," he said.

"I'm saying this as a human being, I have no political axe to grind. I would love the people of McGurk's to get their day, but they won't while this society remains totally divided on what this war, or conflict to others, was about."

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