Theresa Villiers angers more relatives with La Mon rejection
A much-criticised police investigation into an IRA firebomb that killed 12 people will not be subject to a Government review.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has told the families of those killed in the La Mon Hotel bombing in east Belfast in 1978 that she felt a re-examination of evidence would not provide new answers.
But Bertie Campbell, spokesman for families of the victims, said: "We have no intention of letting go."
The families will now consult with their lawyers on the way forward. Confirmation that a review had been ruled out was contained in a letter addressed and delivered to just one of the victims of the atrocity, Billy McDowell, whose wife Lily was severely injured in the firebomb. Tragically, Lily died last September, just two weeks after meeting Ms Villiers to press for a review.
"The letter does nothing to elucidate the issue which had been raised with her in a comprehensive report submitted by the Ulster Human Rights Watch in August 2013 – ie the allegation of collusion between RUC Special Branch and state agents involved in Provisional IRA terrorist activities," said Billy in a joint statement with Jim Mills, who lost his wife Carol and sister-in-law.
Kenny Donaldson, a spokesman for campaigning group Innocent Victims United, said justice for the La Mon victims had effectively been sacrificed for the sake of political expediency, although questions over Ballymurphy also needed answering.
He added: "Today's announcement by the Secretary of State does not represent a 1-1 score draw but rather is a 2-0 defeat for victims.
"Justice has effectively been sacrificed in this society for a 'peace process' with foundations built on sand.
"The past cannot be removed, it must be faced up to and all those responsible must account for their actions. No sustainable peace can be built without the processes of justice and truth having been fully worked through."
Ms Villiers had been considering whether to commission a review of the files by a QC – along the lines of the 2012 exercise carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva into the loyalist murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.
Twelve members of the Irish Collie Club were killed in the La Mon outrage.
The club was holding its annual dinner dance in the hotel when the firebomb ignited.
Bereaved relatives have alleged republicans suspected of involvement in the attack have been shielded from justice due to their latter roles in the peace process.
East Belfast Assembly member Michael Copeland said: "This news will only fuel those who believe the people responsible for the atrocity are in some way a protected species, perhaps because they now hold elected office."