Fuelling the political row which erupted following the Government's decision to comply with a European Court order and pay the families' legal costs, Niall Farrell - brother of Mairead, who died in a hail of SAS bullets - said: "This is a clear indication that the British government now accepts the verdict of the highest human rights court in Europe, that they unlawfully killed or, in plain English, murdered our loved ones."
His words were dismissed by the Government, which emphasised that the payment was for costs only - not compensation - and that short of withdrawing recognition of the Strasbourg court, it had no choice but to pay up.
Last September the European Court of Human Rights cleared the Government of operating a "shoot-to-kill" policy, but ruled that the 1988 gunning down of the three "unlawful". By a 10-9 majority the judges decided Farrell, Sean Savage and Daniel McCann could and should have been arrested and gave the Government three months to pay the families' pounds 38,700 costs. The decision infuriated the Government, which said it would review its support for the European Court. Payment of costs indicates it was not prepared to risk international condemnation for withdrawing. While Euro-sceptic MPs were furious at the payout,lawyers acting for the relatives have written to the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe - responsible for implementing the court's verdict. They said the unprecedented verdict and the British response could not be taken lightly.
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