Northern Ireland news

Plans to restrict future prosecutions of British soldiers who served during the Troubles branded an 'insult' to victims

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager. Picture by Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast
Marie Louise McConville

THE prospect of a form of amnesty on prosecutions for offences committed during the Troubles was last night described as an "insult" to victims.

Amnesty International yesterday warned that any plans must not include granting immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses.

It comes amid reports that the UK intends to ban future prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.

It has been reported that the move would also apply to former paramilitaries.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said: "No-one can be above the law and beyond accountability.

"The UK government appears determined to close down paths to justice," she said.

Ian Knox cartoon 7/5/21 

"This reported plan is an insult to victims on all sides and the latest gross betrayal of victims who remain determined to seek the truth, justice and accountability to which they are entitled".

She added: "We urge the government to abandon this offensive plan and revert to the UK’s commitments to deliver mechanisms capable of vindicating the rights of victims".

Michael O’Hare, whose 12-year-old sister, Majella was shot dead by a British soldier in the village of Whitecross in Co Armagh in 1976, said there was "no way" his family would be denied "any chance of justice".

"Our Majella was taken from us, at the tender age of 12, by bullets from a soldier’s machine gun," he said.

"Thirty five years after her death, the Ministry of Defence sent us a letter of apology. Yet, no-one has ever been held accountable.

"There has not even been a proper investigation, never mind a prosecution. Now Boris Johnson is planning to forever deny our family any chance of justice.

"No way. I will fight on for Majella. She should still be with us. The least she deserves is justice.

Posting on Twitter, Wave Trauma Centre described the reported plans as "shameful".

"If half of what is being reported as NIO legacy proposals is true it goes beyond the State rewriting history.

"It tells all who lost loved ones that they have no history.

"Their loved ones death does not matter.

"Their grief does not matter. Cynical, shameful, foolish and dangerous".

Meanwhile, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said he has had no advanced sight of what the British government is planning in relation to legacy cases.

"I haven't had a conversation with the Secretary of State (Brandon Lewis) in relation to what would appear in the public domain today," he told a meeting of the Policing Board.

"We did have an indication from the NIO that something will be said on the 11th of May (Queen's Speech) but we were no (more) sighted in terms of the detail than what has been put out in the public domain today."

He added: "We've said on previous occasions that we support the Stormont House Agreement. We've said that consistently over a number of years.

"But I just don't want to get drawn at the moment until we've seen the specifics in the Queen's Speech, because we might end up upsetting a whole can of worms that we don't need to because we haven't got any further insight at the moment."

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