Belfast Telegraph

Victims must never be forgotten

Editor's Viewpoint

There has been so much focus placed upon the victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as well as in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, that it is easy to overlook the harrowing reality that people in other countries have been victims as well.

This fact is being brought home to us, literally, by a visit today to Stormont by Mrs Melanie Anan. In 1989 her aunt Heidi Hazell, the wife of a British soldier, was shot dead by the Provisional IRA at an Army base near Dortmund.

She died instantly, and no one has been brought to justice for her murder, despite claims that the German authorities had compelling evidence about a number of alleged suspects whom they wanted to interview.

Tragically, the death of Heidi Hazell, far away in Germany, became another forgotten story of the Troubles, but not by her shocked and bereaved family.

Melanie Anan has been telling her story to a group of MLAs at Stormont today in a bid to have the case of her aunt's murder reopened. This will also highlight the importance of today's European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism, which was established by the EU in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings of 2004.

The murder of Heidi Hazell, at the age of 26, was one of 14 deaths of people on the European mainland during a series of Provisional IRA atrocities.

People here will be surprised, indeed taken aback, that the web of paramilitary violence entrapped so many other people far from our shores.

Today provides a good opportunity for our public representatives to make clear to the late Heidi Hazell's family our feeling of regret and sorrow at what happened, and to show them the kinder face of the people of Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, unfortunately, the very term "victim" causes problems, and it raises questions about the complex way in which we try to deal with this controversial issue over here.

However, Melanie Anan's visit will also serve to remind us that it is time we adopted a grown-up attitude to victimhood, and that we must sooner or later reach an agreement on this most significant issue, which sadly still remains unsolved. This is the least we can do for all the victims.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph