Northern Ireland

Victims' campaigner Jude Whyte feels 'sense of relief' after amnesty announcement

Former member of the Victims' Forum Jude Whyte. Picture by Hugh Russell
Former member of the Victims' Forum Jude Whyte. Picture by Hugh Russell

A FORMER member of the Victims' Forum whose mother was killed by a UVF bomb has said he feels a "great sense of personal relief" at the proposed amnesty for Troubles' offences.

But Jude Whyte, whose mother Peggy Whyte was killed alongside 22-year-old RUC officer Michael Dawson in a bomb blast outside her home on Belfast's University Street in April 1984, said he is "bitterly disappointed" that the British government's proposed statute of limitations is not complemented by a truth and reconciliation commission.

He said he was "philosophical and reflective" about what the British government was proposing.

"It's over basically, because our fate is in the hands of Tory MPs who have very little emotional attachment to this place – but who will tell the victims their pain doesn't matter?" he said.

Mr Whyte said that while Stormont's parties were united in their opposition to the proposed legislation, he added: "What is said privately and publicly are two different things".

"I'm sure there are elements within these parties that are breathing a sigh of relief because they don't have to deal with this issue any more – it's potentially divisive in all the parties and it poisons the whole body politic," he said.

The former Victims' Forum member said he had expected a de facto amnesty but hoped it would be accompanied by a truth and reconciliation commission.

"But that's clearly not going to happen," he said.

The 64-year-old said he felt that he had "been in a 36 year fight and the referee has suddenly said it's over".

"I just feel more at peace today and have a great sense of personal relief – there's an awful weight off my shoulders," he said.

"I've lost and I'm broken and it's maybe time to get on with my life."