Anger over IRA ‘most wanted’ appointment

Unionists have reacted angrily to the appointment of a republican – previously described as one of the IRA’s most wanted suspects in the UK – to a new forum representing terrorist victims.

Eibhlin Glenholmes was at the centre of an extradition battle in the mid-1980s amid allegations she was involved in a series of IRA terrorist offences.

She was freed by authorities in Dublin after a court ruled the warrants defective, and she later returned to Belfast.

« To think that the [once] most wanted woman in the United Kingdom can now parade herself on what’s called a victims’ forum is a gross insult to the innocent victims. »

Jim Allister

Ms Glenholmes will sit on the new Forum for Victims and Survivors, which aims to improve direct support to individuals and to co-ordinate funding of groups and services. The first formal meeting of the commission will be held in Belfast later this month.

Appearing on UTV Live Tonight in March, Ms Glenholmes said:

“I regret that the conditions existed in which my life and the lives of many people of my generation were changed irrevocably by the armed struggle and I regret that so many of our lives were lost.”

When questioned about whether she thought the IRA war was wrong, she replied: “Absolutely not.”

“We didn’t go to war, it came to us.”

Ms Glenholmes was never convicted of terrorist charges and returned to Belfast during the peace process.

She became part of the Sinn Féin leadership and currently works with a republican ex-prisoners project.

Former Victims Commissioner Mike Nesbitt said putting Ms Glenholmes onto the forum could be a “mistake”.

“It may well be that Ms Glenholmes meets the definition of victim under the 2006 Order, but then so might some of the Paratroopers who served on the streets of Londonderry on Bloody Sunday”, the UUP leader said.

“How would republicans react if a member of the Parachute Regiment was appointed to the Forum?

“I would say the same thing about that as I do about Ms Glenholmes. What added value does she bring, compared to the number of innocent victims who will be put off by her presence,” he asked.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he was “utterly disgusted” by the appointment.

“It’s a monstrous appointment. It is a gross insult to the innocent victims,” he said.

Tom Elliott, former Ulster Unionist Party leader added: “Clearly someone with this sort of chequered past, who does not seem to have any remorse for what she has done, is symptomatic of the difficulties we have here.

“It is a retrograde step.”

The commission was opened last month following the pilot forum, which was set up in 2009.

Other members of the commission are believed to include former members of the security forces, a woman who lost her legs in a 1972 IRA bombing and a Presbyterian minister.


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