CAJ has issued a statement on Paul O’Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre, in response to the media coverage he received over the past weekend:
“CAJ wishes to put on record that we have worked with Paul O’Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre, for many years. He has been – and continues to be – one of the foremost local advocates for human rights and for all victims of the Northern Ireland conflict.
“There was a violent political conflict in Northern Ireland for thirty years, which grew out of a deeply divided, sectarian and repressive society. Many people in NI have a past that includes some form of engagement in that conflict, but this does not rule them out from helping to build a peaceful and human rights based society.
“In Paul’s case, he was a 15-year old child when he joined the IRA in 1970 for a relatively brief period. Less than two years later, he had already left Northern Ireland and was no longer a member of the IRA. This short part of his personal history cannot negate the best part of three decades of activism for victims’ rights and human rights in general. Nor should it cast doubt on the work of the Pat Finucane Centre, which has rightfully established itself as one of NI’s leading human rights organisations.
“The investigations the Pat Finucane Centre has carried out and published are exemplary, based on detailed evidence (much of it from official sources), which has exposed a web of human rights violations.”
CAJ Director Brian Gormally is available for further comment. Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 9031 6000.