On 7 November 2022 in response to Sinn Fein claims that IRA murder was different than gangland (or indeed any other) murder, correspondence was issued to the NI Human Rights Commission on behalf of our client Mr Gary Murray, who lost his sister in the Shankill bomb. The NIHRC were asked to answer three questions in discharge of their functions under section 69 (6) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
The questions were as follows: (i) was the IRA’s terrorist campaign compliant with Human Rights?; (ii) did persons murdered by the IRA have the Article 2 Right to Life?; (iii) is there any provision within the Article 2 ECHR (or any other provision) or via the Human Rights Act 1998 (or any other statutory instrument) which creates a hierarchical or other form of carve out for ‘IRA murder’, thus meaning that the taking of life by the IRA is different than any other unlawful taking of life?
In response the NIHRC Chief Commissioner in correspondence dated 7 December 2022 inter alia confirmed the following:
“You rightly observe, and I agree, that human rights law, including the right to life, applies equally to all individuals in Northern Ireland. Neither the Human Rights Act 1998 nor the European Convention on Human Rights creates a hierarchy of rights and indeed the fundamental principles of human rights law requires that they are universal and applied without discrimination.” (underlining added)
The republican movement, particularly Sinn Fein and their surrogates in academia have set themselves up as ‘Human Rights defenders’, whilst simultaneously Sinn Fein claim that IRA murder was somehow different than any other unlawful murder, and republican ‘Human Rights defenders’ are unable to expressly condemn the Human Rights abuses of the IRA.
The correspondence from the NIHRC demonstrates that the republican movement were human rights abusers, but moreover completely debunks the claims by Sinn Fein leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neil which sought to distinguish IRA murder from other unlawful murders. The NIHRC is unequivocal, the same right to life applies equally to all. It is beyond any doubt that IRA victims had an equal right to life to all others in society. Their murder was without any justification and there was always an alternative to such Human Rights abuses.
We further welcome the offer of the NIHRC to hold a meeting to discuss concerns around how the Commission engages with the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist Community.
Commenting Mr Murray said:
“I am delighted to be able to clearly debunk the disgusting claims that IRA murder was different than any other murder. The murder of my little sister in the Shankill bomb could never be justified or explained away, it was the work of murdering terrorists who were and forever will be human rights abusers.
“This exercise has raised some very uncomfortable truths for the republican movement who set themselves up as human rights defenders. They should first acknowledge that the IRA were human rights abusers and the murders carried out by that criminal terrorist organisation was just the same as murders carried out by gangland criminals, or any other unlawful taking of life.
“I hope this outcome provides comfort to other victims of IRA terrorism who can know that the warped claims of Sinn Fein and their surrogates have been challenged and exposed for the evil propaganda that they are.”
Jamie Bryson, who represented Mr Murray, said:
“It is welcome that the Human Rights Commission has agreed with our submission. It is clear that the claims advanced by Sinn Fein in regards IRA murder has no basis in Human Rights law. It is hoped the most eminent self-appointed ‘human rights defenders’ will be vocal in their support for Mr Murray, and indeed all victims of IRA terrorism.
“Human Rights is a concept which has been appropriated by the republican movement for their own propaganda purposes. It is important this propaganda is challenged and that the Human Rights Commission discharge their statutory functions under section 69 (6) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and accordingly take steps to challenge inaccurate claims about Human Rights being advanced by republicans and their surrogates.
“It is pleasing that the Commission has also offered a meeting to discuss concerns about the work of the NIHRC, particularly in relation to their treatment of the Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist community. We look forward to engaging constructively and ensuring that statutory bodies in Northern Ireland work equally effectively for the PUL community as they do for the nationalist and republican community.”