Belfast Telegraph

TUV's Allister calls for PSNI probe into Provo bomber on Victims' Forum

By David Young

An Assembly Member is calling on the PSNI to probe bombings carried out by a member of the Victims' Forum for Troubles survivors.

TUV leader Jim Allister was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in the wake of revelations that one member of the Forum had resigned after discovering that another member - Robert McClenaghan - was a convicted IRA man.

On Saturday the News Letter reported that Carrickfergus pensioner Jackie Nichol had resigned after discovering McClenaghan's Provo history.

Mr Nichol's 17-month-old son Colin was murdered in an IRA bombing in 1971.

In a 2011 video documentary, McClenaghan had said he was "immensely proud" to have been in the IRA, and said it was his daily job to plant bombs in Belfast.

Mr Nichol said he was furious to discover that the man he had befriended on the Forum had - unbeknown to him - been a terrorist bomber.

Mr Allister said the presence of a convicted Provo in the Forum raised serious questions for the Victims' Commissioner.

"I will be drawing the video formally to the attention of both the PSNI and the Victims' Commissioner," he said.

"McClenaghan is on record as publicly stating: 'We went in to place the bombs into Belfast city centre. That just became like your job or a common part of your day'.

"He needs to be questioned about what bombings he was involved in.

"People deserve to know the answer to the question he declined to answer in a weekend Press report: did this member of the Victims' Forum create victims? This issue cannot be allowed to die."

The North Antrim MLA added: "It has brought the issue of the flawed definition of victim to the fore and it needs to be rectified now. For no longer can innocent victims be equated with the victim makers."

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also revealed yesterday that current members of the Victims' Forum had told him they faced harassment and intimidation in Forum discussions.

"They tell me discussions are often dominated by a small number of people pushing an agenda - making allegations of collusion, and constantly criticising the police and the Army," he said.

"It's evident that they are doing so while at the same time not allowing a proper debate and discussion about what paramilitary elements did during the Troubles."

The MP said that one Forum member told him participation in its discussions was "reopening old wounds" rather than helping to heal them.

"In one case, one man told me that he felt he was being retraumatised, in terms of having constantly to listen to this rhetoric.

"He felt that his membership of the Forum - rather than helping him with the process of recovering from his experiences- has retraumatised him in many respects, opening up old wounds rather than helping them heal.

"So there is a feeling that the Victims' Forum should not be providing a platform for people who want to pursue their own agendas. It should be a Forum which examines how we can move the legacy process forward in the future."

The MP said he was seeking an urgent meeting with the Victims' Commissioner.

"When we're hearing reports of victims feeling harassed and intimidated by some of the rhetoric that's being used by other members, well then, clearly there's a big problem that needs to be addressed," he said.

McClenaghan's grandfather died in the UVF bomb attack on McGurk's Bar in the same year as Mr Nichol's baby son was murdered by the IRA.

Belfast Telegraph

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