Victims' families cry foul over meeting cancellation
The sister of Bloody Sunday victim Willie Nash has blasted the Department of Justice (DoJ) after it cancelled a planned meeting with relatives at the last minute.
Kate Nash was speaking after the DoJ announced that it would not be attending a meeting with families of victims in Londonderry today.
The DoJ had agreed to attend the meeting following complaints that victims had not been invited nor made aware of a series of stakeholder workshops to discuss the Historical Investigations Unit, the body replacing the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), and changes to legacy inquest arrangements.
Ms Nash said: “I found out from a journalist that they weren’t coming. We didn’t get the news officially until 6.20pm — the journalists knew before we did.
“I feel they were going to come there tomorrow and face a lot of hard questions and they knew they couldn’t stand over the document (they presented at the workshops) because they wouldn’t have the answers.”
Vinny Coyle, uncle of Real IRA victim Kieran Doherty, said he suspected Stormont doing a “backdoor deal” on the victims’ issue. Mr Coyle said: “I have to ask if there’s political interference here?”
The DoJ issued a statement on the matter at 5.40pm: “The Department of Justice recently held a number of stakeholder engagement workshops to discuss justice-related policy areas arising from the Stormont House Agreement. In addition, we agreed to meet a number of groups on a one to one basis including a meeting in Derry on 26 August. As this has now grown into a public meeting, going beyond the scope of the current stakeholder engagement, the department regrets that officials will not be able to attend.
“We will, however, arrange one to one meetings with appropriate interested parties on the justice aspects of the Stormont House Agreement and we apologise for any inconvenience.”