Demonstrations across Belfast call for Troubles legacy to be addressed
Campaigners calling for funding to help families bereaved in Northern Ireland’s troubled past to get the truth have taken to the streets of Belfast.
The latest move by the Time For Truth campaign comes days after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was criticised after it emerged it failed to disclose all the information it held over an infamous Loyalist shooting in Belfast to a watchdog.
The Police Ombudsman found that the PSNI withheld “significant” information over the shooting at a bookmaker’s in the Ormeau Road in 1992.
Five people were killed on February 5 1992, when members of the Loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) opened fire on the Sean Graham shop on the lower Ormeau Road.
PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin apologised on behalf of the police, and said they never sought to withhold the information from the ombudsman investigators, putting the incident down to human error.
However some families whose loved ones’ murders are also affected by the material questioned his statement.
Marian Walsh, the mother of teenage murder victim Damien Walsh, said she does not accept Mr Martin’s apology, and accused police of a “sham” and “excuses”.
In February around 2,000 people took part in a Time For Truth march in Belfast city centre, calling for legacy mechanisms to be put in place.
On Saturday activists canvassed in a number of locations across Belfast, calling for three demands to be met.
These include the implementation of legacy mechanisms negotiated in the Stormont House Agreement, adequate funding of legacy inquests, and of the Police Ombudsman’s office to allow it to complete outstanding historical investigations.
The locations included the Ormeau Road close to the Sean Graham shop on Saturday morning.
Tommy Duffin, whose 66-year-old father Jack was the oldest of those killed in the UFF shooting, was among the activists.
The ombudsman’s report into that atrocity had been due to be given to the family, but will now be reviewed in light of the fresh information from police.
“The Stormont House Agreement has to be put in place, and the legacy inquests and ombudsman need to be properly resourced,” he said.
“Not just for us but all the families waiting to get the answers they need.”
Activists also petitioned for support at the Short Strand in east Belfast, Kennedy Centre and Dairy Farm in west Belfast, and the New Lodge in north Belfast, among other locations.
Time For Truth spokesman Ciaran MacAirt urged people to sign the petition in solidarity with victims and survivors.
“We call on citizens to sign the petition and show their support for victims and survivors across the community who are still denied their basic human rights,” he said.
“Just look at the news this week. Families from the Ormeau Road have been failed yet again by police investigating atrocities in the past.
“Hundreds of other families are experiencing the same and are being re-traumatised on a daily basis.
“This could be our final opportunity to deal with the past for families across the community.”