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A new low in State's treatment of victims

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 12/10/2016

Every time we think that no more hurt can be heaped on those bereaved by terrorism, new evidence emerges that continues to shame the State or its agencies. Image posed by model
Every time we think that no more hurt can be heaped on those bereaved by terrorism, new evidence emerges that continues to shame the State or its agencies. Image posed by model

Every time we think that no more hurt can be heaped on those bereaved by terrorism, new evidence emerges that continues to shame the State or its agencies.

David Caldwell, a former UDR soldier, was killed when he picked up a bomb hidden in a lunch box at a Territorial Army base in Londonderry in 2002. The device was planted by dissident republicans, but no one was ever charged with the killing.

Yet now - 14 years later - a man who claims to have worked for Army intelligence has written a book which says that the bombers had been under surveillance in the days leading up to the attack. Unfortunately, the terrorists switched vehicles and undercover soldiers followed the wrong one.

Understandably, Mr Caldwell's widow and daughter are outraged at this fresh information and are demanding that police interview the book's author. They also want to know why this information was not given to the PSNI when it began investigating the killing.

It is difficult to imagine the anguish this fresh revelation has caused the relatives of Mr Caldwell. Why did they have to learn of the surveillance operation through a book, and why, if the intelligence services knew the names of the main suspects, has no one ever been brought to justice for the death?

This case is symptomatic of the treatment of those bereaved by terrorism. As the years roll by, most have given up on seeing justice being done, although there is no statute of limitations on murder. However, that should not preclude them knowing as much of the truth about their loved ones' deaths as it is possible to give them.

Yet the past continues to refuse to give up its secrets in most cases. We don't really expect terrorists - or former terrorists - to reveal their vile deeds in detail, but we do expect the State and its agencies to treat the bereaved with respect and compassion and to be as transparent as possible about what happened in the past.

But, as seen by the impasse over funding legacy inquests - it is claimed First Minister Arlene Foster blocked the granting of £10m to fund inquests into some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles era - even pleas by the Lord Chief Justice for movement have sadly fallen on deaf ears.

This is no way to treat people who have suffered too long and too deeply already.

Belfast Telegraph

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