25 February 2006

Slap in face for families

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Relatives of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings have criticised the Irish Justice minister for agreeing to meet with loyalists taking part in a march through the capital tomorrow.
Michael McDowell is to host a Love Ulster delegation that includes organiser Willie Frazer and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
The Justice for the Forgotten group, which campaigns on behalf of the 33 people who lost their lives in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan attacks, have criticised the get-together.
The organisation is unhappy that Mr Frazer will attend the meeting.
In 2003, the high-profile Co Armagh loyalist had his gun license revoked, and an application to carry a personal protection firearm turned down.
The PSNI refused the personal firearm application on the grounds that he was associating with individuals believed to have had contact with persons linked to paramilitary organisations.
Speaking to Daily Ireland on Wednesday, Mr Frazer said he could not guarantee that images of loyalist paramilitary, Robert McConnell, who took part in the Dublin bomb attack, would not be on display during the Love Ulster rally.
In light of these comments and the PSNI’s belief that Mr Frazer has associated with “persons linked to paramilitary organisations”, there have been calls for Mr McDowell to cancel his Love Ulster meeting.
Margaret Irwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, said: “Families of those who died in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are angry with the minister.
“Mr McDowell should call off the meeting immediately. I can’t believe he has agreed to meet with Mr Frazer – a man with alleged paramilitary associations – after a rally that will involve loyalists with connections to the gangs who blew up Dublin and Monaghan.
“The Justice for the Forgotten families are really offended. It is bad enough having this parade through the centre of Dublin, but for our Justice Minister to then meet with the organisers is nothing more than a slap in the face.”
The Department of Justice said Mr McDowell was invited to meet the delegation from south Armagh Protestant victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
A spokesperson added that the Minister was never asked to attend the rally or speak at it.
Around 1,000 loyalists, including members of the Orange Order, and six bands are to take part in the afternoon Love Ulster demonstration along O’Connell Street. Dissident republicans opposed to the march are to stage a counter-demonstration at Parnell’s monument.

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