Families claim Tories are censoring ‘Troubles’ deaths files

Fifteen years old Paul Whitters pictured with his baby brother Aidan shortly before he (Paul) was killed by a plastic bullet in Derry on April 15, 1981.

Fifteen years old Paul Whitters pictured with his baby brother Aidan shortly before he (Paul) was killed by a plastic bullet in Derry on April 15, 1981.

Up to twenty local families of people killed in the Troubles have accused the British Government of censoring official reports into their deaths.

In an advertisement in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper yesterday, 180 families from right across the North say Prime Minister David Cameron has reneged on an undertaking given at the time of the publication of the Bloody Sunday report (2010) when he indicated there would be more “openness and frankness” about the past.

In the full-page advert, published through the Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre, the relatives voice concern that official files relating to their loved ones’ deaths are being censored before being seen by their legal teams.

The statement, addressed directly to Mr. Cameron, adds: “Now your government proposes to use ‘national security’ (a term you have failed to define) to redact/censor official reports into the deaths of our loved ones BEFORE they are provided to us. To protect national security or save national embarrassment, Prime Minister? Are you afraid of the truth?”

The advertisement points out that the Republic’s Foreign Minister, Charlie Flanagan, has criticised the British Government for using the “smothering blanket” of national security to justify the non-disclosure of information to families.

Referring to the Stormont House Agreement (2014) - a deal brokered by the North’s political parties to restore devolution and which included commitments from London and Dublin to create an open system to analyse the legacy of the Troubles - the families continue: “Mr Cameron you failed to implement recommendations on how to deal with the legacy of conflict. There are times when we suspect that your government are waiting for us to die, hoping you can then ignore our demands. But we will not go away. Our children and our children’s children will fight on. We demand fully independent investigations and implementation of the other legacy proposals. These are rights, not privileges. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Among the local bereaved families who have signed the statement are the loved ones of: Sammy Devenny, Sean Dalton, Denis Heaney, Kathleen Thompson, John Toland, Jim Loughrey, Bernadette Friel, Thomas Friel, Daniel Hegarty, Harry Duffy, Gary English, Jim Brown, Paul McCauley, Stephen McConomy, Annette McGavigan, Paul Whitters, Billy McGreanery, Tobias Molloy and Eamon McDevitt. It’s also signed by a number of the ‘injured’ including Stephen Crumlish, Christopher Hegarty, Gerry Kelly, Gerry McGowan, Richard Moore, and Michael Toner.