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By : Ivan Pedropillai
Location & Time : London 22.00 GMT 31 January 2006
Source : TWG

To our Readers:

You might have read earlier Press Reports originating from Sri Lanka about three weeks ago that appeared to suggest that His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor of the Diocese of Westminster in England on a courtesy visit to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse had concurred with the President's request to 'look into' funds collected by Tamils in the UK for terrorism. I am pleased to report on the authority of the Cardinal's Director of Public Affairs that this was a mischievous twist given by the Sinhala Sri Lankan Press to a gratuitous statement made by the President which was heard by the the Cardinal out of courtesy but about which the Cardinal had not expressed an opinion. Attached are two releases from Mr Austen Ivereigh, the Cardinal's Director of Public Affairs.

Following extensive correspondence and telephone conversations from early January 2006 that I have had with Mr Austen Ivereigh, Director Public Affairs in the Office of Cardinal O'Connor of the Westminster Diocese in England, I have official refutation which says that "I was alarmed to find on my return that reports of a part of my meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse on 2 January have troubled some in the Tamil Catholic community in the UK. .. ..(by any)...headline which may have given the impression that I accepted the premise of the President’s request that I help in some way to discourage the funding of the LTTE by members of the Tamil community. As it happened, I simply noted his request, which arose very briefly in a discussion about the peace process in general".

The Cardinal, the leader of the Catholics in England and Wales, used his pastoral letter quoted above to the Tamil Chaplain on 17th January 2006, to refute this important point at issue as a result of my correspondence with his office regarding his visit to Sri Lanka.

Today, as at 31st January, he has once again shown his loving interest and concern for all the people of that country in a Press Release which states interalia: " I want to reiterate, with the bishops of Sri Lanka, the need for a united state with maximum devolution, and equality, justice and democracy for all the communities of the island. Only a just and peaceful settlement will bring to an end the tensions in Sri Lanka and the sufferings inflicted at the hands of military and militarised forces. I therefore call on all parties to recall the awareness after the tsunami of the common humanity of all Sri Lankans, whether Singhalese or Tamil, and to make a new effort for peace. In the wake of that disaster Sri Lankans put aside their differences for the sake of their common humanity. I hope and pray they can do so again.”

Please see my letter to Austen Ivereigh below sent earlier this evening (Appendix A). The final piece of the jigsaw has now fallen into place. The Press Release from the Cardinal's office was sent to me today and I am very pleased with it (attachment 1). It has to be read in conjunction with his earlier letter to the Tamil Chaplain of 17th January 2006 (attachment 2) which as I have already stated was produced at my instance.

Ivan Pedropillai
Chairman and editor
31 January 2006

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