The daughter of Creggan mother-of-six, Kathleen Thompson, shot dead by the British Army in her back garden over 45 years ago told the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, London must deliver justice for the families of those murdered by the state during a visit to Strasbourg.
Minty Thompson, who was 12 when her mother was gunned down by the Royal Green Jackets in Rathlin Drive, on November 6, 1971, told Mr. Muižnieks that until the past is properly dealt with “we’ll never get to the future”.
Ms. Thompson travelled to the European capital with fellow victims of state violence. She said Mr. Muižnieks, received the delegation “extremely sympathetically”.
“We had a really good meeting with him,” said Ms. Thompson.
“He was very clued in to all that’s been going on with the past. After all, he was the one who spoke out and said that the British Government should carry out investigations and that they should pay for them,” she said.
In 2014 Mr. Muižnieks warned the British Government would breach the European Convention of Human Rights if didn’t investigate and fund outstanding probes into state killings.
Ms. Thompson said Mr. Muižnieks told the delegation, hosted by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson, that the breach of Article 2 of the ECHR, which upholds ‘the right to life’, will apply retrospectively whether the United Kingdom leaves the European Union or not.
She said he was also deeply unimpressed by former First Minister Arlene Foster’s refusal of to release funding for legacy inquests, including one into the death of her mother, which was requested by the Lord Chief Justice, Declan Morgan last year.
Mr. Muizniek’s support was morale-boosting, she said.
“It was unbelievable to be quite honest,” said Ms. Thompson.
“It would have lifted your heart, how well he is up to date on everything that went on, how disappointed he was when it came to Declan Morgan’s proposal. He was just shocked at the fact that this was a non-runner.”
Ms. Thompson said she took a cynical view of recent claims by unionist politicians and veterans’ groups that there is a witch-hunt against former soldiers and that probes into murders carried out by republicans are not receiving the same attention.
She said: “Almost forty-six years ago my mother was shot dead in the back garden. We never had an investigation. What we had was the British Army investigating the British Army.
“The nearest thing we got to the truth, the one person who was definitely honest with us, was Declan Morgan. “On the day they took us up, took us through the whole procedure, he didn’t build our hopes up or anything like that but he gave us a chance.
“Then we found that the DUP wouldn’t allow it so that was blown out of the water.
“The next thing is you’re getting all these allegations from Brokenshire [James, NI, Secretary of State] and the veterans. Everyone’s entitled to some sort of investigation or prosecution if that’s what people want but they forget about the amount of people within the nationalist and republican community who were jailed and the amount of years that were done and many of them were done for nothing, they were innocent, but we were never given that.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said it’s time for London to stop dragging its heels and accept its responsibilities in relation of state killings in Ireland.
“To date the British government has absolutely failed in its obligations to deal with the legacy of the past.
“It has not lived up to its responsibilities under successive agreements and it has and continues to let down families, some of whom have been waiting more than 40 years for access to truth about the death of their loved ones,” she said.
Ms. Thompson agreed it’s now time to grasp the nettle.
“It is going on too long, the longer it goes on, we’ll never get to the future, and really and truly if we can get this settled, and if Declan Morgan’s correct, it can be settled within five years. If not, you’re talking another forty five years, if ever.”