Truth Commission appeal

PACEMAKER BELFAST, 19/4/2001: Collect picture of Joanne Mathers, a census collector shot dead by the IRA in Derry in 1981. Her baby is called Shane.
PACEMAKER BELFAST, 19/4/2001: Collect picture of Joanne Mathers, a census collector shot dead by the IRA in Derry in 1981. Her baby is called Shane.

Sinn Féin has renewed appeals for Truth Commission to be set up to examine issues arising from the North’s Troubles in response calls for review into the investigation of the murder of a woman in Derry in 1981.

The party was responding to comments by DUP MP Gregory Campbell regarding the Historical Enquiries Team’s investigation of the Joanne Mathers murder case. The Co Tyrone mother-of-one was shot dead by the IRA as she collected census forms in the Top of the Hill area.

Mr Campbell has said he has written to the HET, calling for a review into the investigation of the murder of Mrs Mathers.

Mr Campbell said her family are unhappy with how the investigation is being handled and had asked him to write to the HET to express their concerns.

“The HET had several meetings with the family and they put forward a series of questions, hoping to get some clarification. They wanted to know if there was any attempt to get exhibits from the time of the shooting.

“They wanted to know were certain people questioned. The answer was no.

“The family said they would be prepared to go on a public platform and appeal for information, they were told ‘we don’t do that’.

“It was a very negative approach on all fronts.”

Mr Campbell said the family also want the HET to ask Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness if he has knowledge that could help identify her killers.

The HET said it works with families on a confidential basis and provides comprehensive reports.

However, Sinn Fein has again called for the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.

A spokesperson for the party said: “The legacy of the past is one of the big issues which remain to be resolved in the outworking of the peace process. This includes the desire of many victims and families for an effective truth recovery process. Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been caused through conflict in our country.

“Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be an effective process for dealing with all legacy issues. Therefore, we believe that the British and Irish governments should invite a reputable and independent international body to establish an Independent International Truth Commission.”

The party said the body would be independent of any state, combatant groups, political parties or other selfish interests.

“It should have a remit to inquire into the extent and pattern of past actions as well as their causes and consequences and would be dependent on the full co-operation of all the relevant parties. Of course, such a process would not be easy. There are vested interests who do not want the truth and who will oppose the creation of a meaningful truth recovery process.

“It will also be a difficult and painful process and experience, particularly for bereaved families. It must therefore be conducted in a sensitive and generous way. And there can be no hierarchy of victims. All victims must be treated on the basis of equality.

“The closure which victims, victim’s families and survivors deserve, demands that those who contributed to the conflict have to pledge ourselves to tell and to listen to the truth about the past. Over time this will contribute to genuine national reconciliation and an inclusive healing process.

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have both said in the past that they would actively encourage republicans to co-operate with such a process. “Building a united harmonious society requires that these difficult issues be dealt with in an inclusive way as a necessary part of dealing with the past,” the spokesperson added.