Not Interested In Charging Soldiers With Murders
Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
5 September 2015
(begins time stamp ~ 21:50)
MG: So now we're talking to Kate Nash and she and her sister, Linda, are very active in the Bloody Sunday victims' campaign. Kate, can you hear me?
KN: I can indeed, very clearly.
MG: Great. Kate, first of all, just to bring everybody up to date: Bloody Sunday happened in 1972. One of the things that was agreed as a result of the Stormont Agreement was that there would be an inquiry; the Saville Inquiry into what really happened. And at the end of that inquiry a British Prime Minister stood up and said that those killings were unjustified and unjustifiable – which sounds to me, as a lawyer, a lot like a definition of murder. And at the end of the Saville Inquiry the judge who sat on it, Saville, said that British troopers had knowingly put forward false accounts of their actions – which again to me sound a lot like the crime of perjury. Could you tell us how many of those British troopers have been arrested, prosecuted or charged for those murders or for perjury?
KN: Well, absolutely none. Not one soldier has been questioned to date. Not one. Apparently, according to the PSNI, (Police Service of Northern Ireland) they have questioned one thousand witnesses, civilian witnesses, but they have not question one of the suspects. And this murder investigation has actually been going on for I think something what? - three years, maybe a little over, actually, you know. So we're definitely not getting anywhere fast. I don't think the idea is actually not to question soldiers. I think the real idea is not actually to hold anybody accountable. And as you mentioned yourself - Can I tell you, Sandy, just about what's happening at the moment concerning this? We, as you know, had an investigation team here many years ago and they were actually a disgraced organisation – they were there to investigate murders, Troubles related murders. And this investigation unit was set up by the government, the British government. And eventually people found out that the soldiers – they were telling people's families that the soldiers who shot their loved ones were dead. Many families were told that only to find out at a later date that these killers were still alive. So this organisation lost complete credibility with the public and eventually had to closed down.
Now the thing about that – that's just to give you an idea of the mindset that we have and how hopeless, sometimes, the victims and victims' families of this country feel. Now Stormont House, that's where the government sits, had talks last year and they were called the Stormont House Agreement. Now, they decided that they would set up a new organisation called the Historical Investigations Unit, HIU, to help deal with, again, Troubles related murders.
MG: Kate, if I could just jump in.
KN: Yeah, surely.
MG: Now the British have no problem in arresting people like Gerry McGeough, who was sentenced for something that happened in 1981.They had no problem for arresting Ivor Bell and bringing him to court for something that happened in 1972 – had no problem gaoling Seamus Kearney. Why is it – they know who those troopers are - they were able to contact them for the Saville Inquiry – they've had - various police investigations have been announced – there are a number of initiatives I know that were announced – why is it that they can't arrest, or even question, one of the troopers involved in these murders when even the British Prime Minister says these murders were unjustified and unjustifiable?
KN: Well Mr. Galvin, simply because we have political policing here. They're not actually interested in charging soldiers with murders. What they want as Republicans – I would think Republicans actually that don't toe what I call “the Sinn Féin line” – Republicans that disagree with what Sinn Féin are actually doing – and really it's political policing and it's as simple as that.
MG: Alright, Kate now – you tried to – you talked about the new Historical Investigations Unit - HIA...
MG: Sorry, unit. And you heard that they were willing to meet and brief victims groups, family groups, in order to go forward. And you attempted to organise a meeting on August 26th at the Maldron Tower Hotel. What happened?
KN: Well actually, what happened was the guy, Brian - his name was Brian Grzymek, - he's the deputy head of the legacy unit. And what happened was he was to come down on the twenty-sixth and we got an email on the twenty-fifth at twenty past six in the evening to say that he wasn't coming down and with a very weak excuse about a couple of phone calls he said - that this meeting was actually going to talk on broader issues. Absolutely not! That meeting was simply about this HIU.
This HIU – there was actually three workshops that we were told about and this was after they were over and we had no input at all because we weren't invited. Now, there was a hundred and twenty-five groups invited to these. I'm not saying all of those groups went obviously – but the Grand, the Grand – they called these by the way “Stakeholders' Workshops” - now the Grand Orange Lodge – there was Police Federation groups, police groups of all types up and down the country, Isamic group – there was all sorts of groups invited. And the fact of the matter is the families of victims knew nothing about it. So we actually called this Brian – we found out and we called him to ask: Why had victims and victims' families not been invited to these meetings? And we got the list and there was no Bloody Sunday families on there, no Ballymurphy families, no Kingsmill, no Omagh – and the list could go on. And of course, I mean, this is causing deep suspicion!
MG: Kate - we're talking to Kate Nash, who is the sister of the one of the victims of Bloody Sunday - So you organised a meeting. You invited Ballymurphy Massacre families, is that correct?
KN: Absolutely. Now, we were moving fast and we didn't have resources to be honest with you, Mr. Galvin. We didn't have much resources and because this guy, Brian Grzymek, from the unit, from the legacy unit, said that they didn't have the resources to fund the meeting. By the way, it was only fifty pounds to rent out a hotel conference room and you know – sixty-five or something for tea and coffee – you know, biscuits for people. So we paid for that out of our own pockets because we thought the meeting was very important. And we tried to actually get in contact with as many groups as possible which was extremely difficult. But we made phone calls to individual people – and sometimes up in Belfast – they couldn't get. But however, we did have a good number of victims and victims' families waiting to ask very important, what they considered, very important questions. Because this HIU unit, it's strap legislation - it's about to go through – either this month or early next month - go through Parliament so this will be law! So this unit will be protected by law!
MG: Alright so Kate, you're telling us you tried to have a meeting. You tried as the family member of a victim, you had other victims groups, I know you had Padraigin Drinan, who's one of the very noted civil rights attorneys...
KN: ...That's right. She actually advised us of what this unit – you know there are four threads of this unit - and she actually advised us on what that could possibly mean and it doesn't make for comfortable reading, you know – to be honest.
MG: Right. So it ended up with the meeting being canceled and you told, as a sister of somebody murdered on Bloody Sunday - the Ballymurphy Massacre relatives there – others who were killed by collusion murders - direct murders, as your family was - that you don't have any stake in being a victim or don't have any stake in hearing about the Historical Investigations Unit which is supposedly going to do what the British have never done for so many years: arresting and charging British troopers for involvement in murder or collusion murders.
KN: They have no intentions of doing that. They've actually – look, part of this investigation unit is ICIR and that's Independent Commission for Information Retrieval. This unit will pass information to families about the deaths of their loved ones – information provided by groups or individuals cannot be used and will not be used against them legally – unless they're discovered first. Now, I could refer you back to Bloody Sunday and the lies that were told there. And they walked. They walked! There's also an Oral History – Oh! I should say about that information retrieval unit: they've actually - you can't actually challenge any information. If a family, for instance, weren't quite happy with what information they got you can't challenge them by judicial review. You can't challenge them on the Freedom of Information Act. They are only answerable to the First and Deputy First Minister. So these guys are completely covered!
MG: Well, what seems to be happening is that they're trying to foreclose any avenue that you get for justice. They're trying to just delay these cases into oblivion with one excuse after another. And now they tell you that they have these new investigation units which are going to do what no other British unit or constabulary unit did: question, charge and bring some of these troopers or RUC members or others involved with murder or collusion to book and they will not even meet with the families of victims. They tell you: You don't have a stake in the outcome.
KN: I think that's a story in itself there. I think that tells the whole story. (ends time stamp ~ 32:26)