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Commissioner Bertha McDougall has defended the appointment of Eibhlin Glenholmes

Commissioner Bertha McDougall has defended the appointment of Eibhlin Glenholmes

Commissioner Bertha McDougall has defended the appointment of Eibhlin Glenholmes

Appointing a woman once dubbed Britain's "most wanted" IRA suspect to a new forum for victims in Northern Ireland was necessary to reflect the varied experiences from decades of conflict, it has been claimed.

Unionists have hit out at the appointment of Eibhlin Glenholmes, who at the height of the Troubles was the focus of failed extradition proceedings in Dublin as British authorities sought to question her over a string of IRA attacks in England.

But Bertha McDougall, a victims commissioner who helped appoint the 25-member Forum for Victims and Survivors, said it was necessary to reflect as wide a range of perspectives as possible and appealed for critics to await details of the group's full make-up.

Mrs McDougall, whose husband was a police officer killed by republicans in 1981, said compiling a group that reflected the broad experiences and trauma of the years of violence was a complex task.

"It is about making sure that there is a range of experiences of the conflict," she said.

She added: "I think that people need to be fully aware of all of the membership."

In the mid-1980s, Ms Glenholmes was at the centre of a high-profile extradition battle and was eventually freed by the authorities in Dublin after a court ruled the warrants defective.

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She was never convicted of any terrorist charges and re-emerged in the 1990s in a prominent role in Sinn Fein as the peace process developed.

She was supportive of the moves to end the Troubles, working with a group assisting former republican prisoners.

But unionists have now questioned her appointment to the Forum for Victims and Survivors, claiming the move could deter the victims of republican violence from seeking help.


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