Raymond McCord, the Belfast man who was in Washington last week seeking justice for the murder of his son by a Loyalist paramilitary group in 1997, was disheartened with the cold reception and lack of answers he got from the British Embassy in the nation’s capital.
McCord’s son, Raymond McCord Junior, a radar operator in the Royal Air Force, was found beaten to death in Ballyduff Quarry on the outskirts of north Belfast on November 9, 1997.
The 22-year-old Protestant was murdered by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to protect a senior Loyalist and a police informant who was being investigated by UVF leadership over involvement in drug dealing.
Since his son’s murder, McCord, who from day one suspected police collusion and was later proved right, has been fighting to seek justice for his son’s murder.
Because door after door was shut in McCord’s face in Ireland, the father decided the only thing left to do now was to bring his son’s case to Capitol Hill.
McCord spent last week lobbying members of Congress to seek a congressional hearing into his son’s murder. He urged members to write a letter calling on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to meet with him and his family.
McCord is secondly seeking a congressional resolution requesting that the Irish and British governments hold an independent public inquiry into Raymond’s murder. He is also urging congress to hold their own congressional hearing into his son’s killing.
McCord, a pipe fitter by trade, had a series of meeting with high-ranking congress members about his son’s murder and is very optimistic that a congressional hearing will take place in the coming months.
“I’m very optimistic from the meetings I’ve had and there is not one person who has given me a negative response,” McCord told IrishCentral in an interview last week.
“They are very well briefed on my son’s case and very sympatric and it just amazes me,” he said.
However, disappointment came on Wednesday of last week when he met with British government representatives.
McCord’s appointment to discuss his son’s case with the British government in the U.S. was made with the Northern Ireland Bureau -- whom he said “treated me very nicely” -- but because justice and policing have not yet been completely devolved McCord was referred to the British Embassy.
The Belfast man met with the head of the Embassy's political, economic and public affairs department, Nic Hailey, on Wednesday.
“Because I was meeting with the duly authorized person -- and not with some public relations person -- I was hopeful I would get some real answers on justice and policing as it relates to my son’s murder,” he said.
McCord soon experienced his first set back in Washington.
“I was low-keyed and respectful but Mr. Hailey never answered one question. He never even tried, maintaining almost virtual silence throughout the hour meeting. And when he did speak it was to ask, whom are you meeting on Capitol Hill, do you think you are having any impact, and when are you going home?”
McCord, upset with the lack of answers, added, “I am an Ulsterman, a British citizen. The British government and the Northern Ireland police collude in the brutal murder of my son, Raymond Junior. I am given a fantastic reception on Capitol Hill. Then I go to my own embassy in Washington, and I get nothing, absolutely nothing,” he said.
“It is so disappointing to this proud Ulsterman. Hailey’s treatment of me is exactly what I get from his colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast.”
A call from IrishCentral to Hailey’s office in Washington was not returned.
After a failed meeting with the British Embassy, McCord said the cold reception he received highlighted the need for congressional hearings into his son’s murder.
Update: May 27, 2009 - A British Embassy spokesman said: "The Embassy was happy to agree to Mr McCord's request for a meeting, and listened to his concerns. We felt it was a cordial and constructive meeting, and Mr McCord has our sympathies for the tragic loss of his son.
"The murder of Mr McCord's son is being investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, along with related cases. Like the rest of the British Government, we want that criminal justice process to be allowed to take its course - and it is right that it takes place without any comment or interference which could cut across the investigative or criminal process."