Northern Ireland news

Boris Johnson warned amnesty for Troubles killings 'fundamentally wrong'

Daniel Hegarty was shot dead by the British Army in 1972 in Derry

A CROSS-community group representing victims and survivors of the Troubles has warned Boris Johnson it would be "fundamentally wrong" to grant an amnesty for all killings during the conflict.

The Wave Trauma centre has written an open letter to the prime minister following the recent collapse of high profile legacy cases.

The letter argues that dealing effectively with "complex and sensitive legacy issues" will not be done by "perverting the criminal justice system".

Briefing proposals leaked to The Times newspaper in May suggested that the British government is planning to end all prosecutions for suspected offences, whether carried out by veterans or by republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

"Those briefings have confirmed that the core motivation behind the policy is not to deal with complex legacy issues in a coherent and sensitive way, but rather to protect veterans from potential prosecution by a de facto amnesty that will include the very paramilitaries who murdered their colleagues as well as thousands of civilians," the letter states.

"We simply cannot believe that veterans would want that to happen to the families of their fellow service men and women killed during the Troubles.

"If anyone in Downing Street or the Ministry of Defence or the Northern Ireland Office seriously thinks that an amnesty of this nature can form the foundation upon which reconciliation could be built then it shows how little they understand the nature of the pain and trauma which continues to be suffered by victims and survivors and their families."

There has been outcry following the collapse of a case against two former soldiers for Troubles killings, including two on Bloody Sunday.

The prosecution of another veteran, Soldier B, for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in Derry later in 1972, will also not go ahead.

The open letter asks: "Would the families of the 7/7 bombings, or the Manchester bombing, or any other atrocity be asked to draw a line under their own grief and pursuit of justice?"

Among the signatories to the letter are Cathy McCann, chair of the Wave Trauma Centre, whose father was murdered by the B Specials auxiliary police in 1969, in a case that remains unresolved.

In 1990, Ms McCann was severely injured as the sole survivor in a roadside bomb in which a nun and three policemen were murdered by the Provisional IRA.

Other signatories include former Wave chair Damien McNally, whose father was murdered by loyalists in 1976 in a unresolved case, Rev Dr David Clements, whose father was an RUC officer murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1985 and Jean Caldwell, whose husband was murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1992.

The letter warns that an amnesty on conflict era killings "will not aid reconciliation" but will will exacerbate "the anguish and bitterness that will bleed into subsequent generations".

It argues that the proposals would also bring comfort to those who "were still prepared to maim and kill" by sending a message that "if they hold on long enough they will not have to answer for what they have done".

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