Below is a statement from Cairde na hEireann, one of the targets of the Loyalist bomb plot, following the guilty verdicts on reduced charges in the trial.
Cairde na hÉireann would like to take this opportunity following the guilty verdicts, on reduced charges, at the trial of Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie to express our disappointment at the way the case has been handled by the Procurator Fiscal and the police.
We, as victims, expected to be treated as equal to the other victims of this bomb plot. Cairde have been clear from day one that this loyalist conspiracy was driven by anti Irish racism. We made this clear to the Procurator Fiscal and the police from the outset and are angry that the hate crime element of this case has been ignored throughout. The evidence led against one of the accused clearly showed his links to pro British death squads.
We believe this has been done for political purposes. It may suit the state to portray this case as about football or two extremists when in fact this bomb plot shines a light on Scotland’s shame – Anti Irish Racism.
Strathclyde police’s handling of the case should also come into question;
Firstly, despite Cairde’s high profile they failed to provide warning to Cairde na hÉireann when they had warned other Irish comminty groups. Why not? And who made this decision?
Secondly, whilst taking statements from Cairde na hÉireann members officers were abrupt and aggressive to the point that the members felt it was more of an interrogation and left feeling more like the perpetrators than victims. They were denied the basic right to have a witness present. Again we ask who made this decision?
Thirdly, the Crown Prosecution Service, the media and Strathclyde police tried to centre this crime around football. Anti Irish Racism and sectarianism is rife in Scottish society and is not limited to ninety minutes. Racism and other forms of hate crimes are problems for all of Scottish society not just football
Cairde have long argued that the police in Scotland are not fit for purpose. What training they have in this area is inadequate. What is needed is transparency and accountability in policing. Following the decision to grant anonymity to police officers during this trial that demand must be repeated.
Sadly Cairde and the broader Irish community will not be surprised by either the mishandling of this case or the less than satisfactory outcome. We have, over the past eight years, consistently worked with councils, police and parliament on achieving better conditions for the Irish diaspora, especially around the issues of racism and sectarianism. Threats, real or otherwise, will not stop us from striving to accomplish our aims.
Cairde na hEireann
30 March 2012