Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness award group is accused of 'closing the door' on victims' families

By Cate McCurry

The sons of two men murdered by republicans have slammed a committee that shortlisted Martin McGuinness for a peace prize after it refused to meet with victims' families.

The former Deputy First Minister's nomination for the Tipperary International Peace Prize has attracted criticism from relatives of paramilitary victims.

Earlier this week, victims' campaigner Kenny Donaldson said representatives from the organisation ruled out any meeting ahead of the process to select the winner of the peace prize. He also revealed the organisation threatened to report him to the police after he raised concerns.

Dr Finian Fallon, a psychotherapist whose father was shot dead during a botched bank robbery in Dublin said he was "disappointed" the committee "closed the door" on any dialogue with families.

Garda Dick Fallon was gunned down during an armed bank robbery at the Royal Bank of Ireland on Dublin's Arran Quay in April 1970, leaving behind a widow and five young children.

The killers were said to be members of the short-lived republican group, Saor Eire.

Dr Fallon contacted the Tipperary Peace Convention (TPC) in a bid to have it reconsider its response to a meeting.

"While I admire the work of TPC, it is disappointing that it should have closed the door on dialogue with Mr Donaldson.

"We need more dialogue throughout the island on these matters, not threats to report people to the police for disagreeing with us. The peace has barely begun for many of those who have lost family and friends during the Troubles and the voices of victims and survivors are not being fully acknowledged."

Martin Quinn, honorary secretary of the convention, has insisted that any meetings would "compromise" the selection process.

"The final decision on the selection of the award rests with those small number of members and we cannot at this time enter into discussion on any of the six nominees," he said. "We cannot do so while we are engaged in the final selection process."

He denied they were shutting the door on families and said they would "gladly" meet them after the process was complete.

However, Austin Stack, whose father, prison officer Brian Stack was murdered by the IRA, said that was not good enough and demanded Mr McGuinness' nomination be withdrawn.

"It re-traumatises people and families. We want this grotesque nomination withdrawn," he said.

"I was one of the first people to email the TPC and their response was a huge insult to us and they made it quite clear at the end of the email that they didn't w ant any further communication from us.

"They really showed they have no regard for those who suffered because of the Troubles."

He added: "The peace process was built on the back of victims' pain and now the TPC is trying to award people like Martin McGuinness."

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