Dáil Éireann - Volume 657 - 18 June, 2008

Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the British Prime Minister the case for truth and justice sought by the families of the 11 people murdered by the British Army in Ballymurphy, Belfast over three days in August 1971; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17216/08]

  Deputy Micheál Martin: The Government consistently raises with the British Government issues which are the legacy of the Troubles, at political level and [139] through the British Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast, as well as ongoing official contacts.

As the Deputy is aware, there are many families still seeking answers and justice for lost loved ones, including the Ballymurphy cases. The question of how to deal with the legacy of the past is being considered by the independent Consultative Group on the Past, which was established in June 2007, under the joint chairmanship of Archbishop Robin Eames and Denis Bradley. The Government welcomed the establishment of the Consultative Group and has remained in close contact with it.

Among the important topics on which the Consultative Group is deliberating is how best to meet the demand for truth, justice and apology for the many terrible deeds which occurred during the Troubles. As they move to develop their proposals the Consultative Group has met with many stakeholders across the spectrum of those affected, including in this jurisdiction: I understand that representatives of the Ballymurphy families met with the Consultative Group on the Past on a number of occasions.

My Department was represented at an event in Dublin on 30 April last, intended to raise awareness of the killings of these eleven people, at the start of a period of the worst violence of the Troubles, following the introduction of internment on 9 August 1971. There are still many unanswered questions in relation to the circumstances surrounding these tragic killings.

My Department is in regular and ongoing contact with Relatives for Justice, a group which represents the Ballymurphy families, and has, over the years, supported Relatives for Justice in their work, including through provision of assistance by the Reconciliation Fund.