The United Nations is considering a petition lodged in behalf of the widows and relatives of some of Ulster's terrorist victims, Monitor contributor Alf McCreary reports. It was sent to the UN Human Rights Secretariat in Geneva, and the Ulster sponsors of the petition are waiting to see if the case will go further.
Harold McCusker, member of Parliament for the border County of Armagh, and Edgar Graham, chairman of the Young Unionists in Northern Ireland, presented the petition to the UN in New York last spring. It is for 200 Ulster people who lost relatives during republican and loyalist violence.
The petition claims the British and Irish governments in their antiterrorist strategy have failed to take sufficient action to protect the ''right to life'' of the population of Ulster. It alleges that the British government's policy has been inadequate in securing the border and that the Irish Republic has failed to take sufficient action to prevent its territory from being used as a place from which terrorism is planned and executed. A similar petition has been sent by the Ulster sponsors to the European Commission for Human Rights.
Mr. Graham said Thursday: ''We think our case is much stronger against the Irish government. It is also a matter of politics within the European Commission and whether they are prepared to interpret the European Convention of Human Rights in this way. In terms of international law we believe that the case is unique. It is well known that the (Irish Republican Army) is responsible directly for much of the violence, but we are alleging an indirect responsibility by the Irish government.''
Both petitions were prepared last year at a time when world attention was focused on the IRA hunger-strikers. There has been a feeling for some time in the loyalist community that not enough attention has been given in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere to the victims of terrorism. The petitions have been submitted in their own right, but they are also an attempt to correct this alleged imbalance.