Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Troubles bereaved still deserve justice

Editor's Viewpoint

They haven't gone away you know. Those infamous words of former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams still ring true - but not about the men of violence and those who directed them, rather the bereaved and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

They may not speak with one voice. Some want those who killed their relatives or inflicted injuries on survivors prosecuted; others simply want to know the facts behind the attacks and some want to continue to grieve in silence.

But however they want to proceed, every bereaved relative or survivor has an equally valid viewpoint and each can validly feel they have been shortchanged in dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

Take the case we highlight today of Mrs Maura Babington whose husband was shot dead in north Belfast in 1989 by the IRA in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

She wonders why this murder almost 30 years ago was not investigated with the same vigour by police as was the case of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser. Two men were questioned last week about that killing before being released on police bail, but police insist that the investigation remains live and the intent is to bring the teenage girl's murderer to justice. Mrs Babington has no evidence to suggest that her husband's death remains a priority for the police, or is even on their radar.

Chief Constable George Hamilton compellingly insists he does not have the resources to police the past and the present.

But everyone with an interest in the legacy of the Troubles - our absentee MLAs, the UK government, police and army - should read the words of Mrs Babington. She says: "Peace is not merely the absence of terrorism but the presence of justice."

That concept should over-ride all other considerations. There are many reasons why killings and maimings have not been solved and the perpetrators jailed - the reluctance of witnesses to come forward in terrorist incidents; the lack of evidence or even the loss of evidence over time and the ability of terrorists to withstand interrogation.

But like Mrs Babington and former soldier Patrick Provis who lost part of an arm, nearly all of the other hand and was peppered with shrapnel in an IRA mortar bomb attack on his first tour of duty here in 1987 the bereaved and survivors want evidence that the files are not closed on their grief and pain.

Belfast Telegraph

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