Hon. Sir James Brokenshire
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
19 Station Road
Kent DA15 7EB
Dear Secretary Brokenshire:
The Irish American Unity Conference (“IAUC”) would like to add its strong support for the call by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan that funding for a dedicated legacy inquest unit be provided without further delay. As with Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, the IAUC shares Sir Declan’s keen disappointment at the lack of progress in dealing with the past in Northern Ireland.
When you and I met during your visit with Norman Houston at the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington last September 7, I expressed the IAUC’s concern about the unresolved status of the legacy issues. In response to my concerns, you personally assured me that you would work to address resolving the legacy issues as put forth in the Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start Agreement. Unfortunately, there has been little if any progress in the year since our meeting. The families of innocent civilians killed during the Troubles remain determined to obtain the truth about their loved ones. As I’m sure you can appreciate, however, the ongoing passage of time deprives some of those most immediately affected from ever obtaining closure. Mary Ellen Murphy, mother of twelve, whose unarmed husband Joseph was brutally killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre, died last year without reconciliation. The IAUC has worked with the Ballymurphy Families and I have met the Murphy’s daughter, Janet Donnelly, several times, and I can testify to the personal anguish she continues to suffer from the unresolved nature of that tragedy.
I respectfully but earnestly request, on behalf of the IAUC and innocent victims like the Ballymurphy Families, that you ensure that funding is provided without any more delay so that the legacy issues are properly addressed and closure achieved for all of the affected families.
I thank you in advance for your attention to this important humanitarian issue. If I can provide any additional information regarding the affected families, please let me know.
Peter C. Kissel
Irish American Unity Conference
5604 Utah Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20015