Northern Ireland news

US government urged to invite parties to "emergency summit" on legacy

Relatives For Justice stage a protest at Stormont yesterday. Picture by Mal McCann.
Connla Young

There have been calls for an "emergency summit" involving the US government by a relatives group opposed to Westminster plans for a Troubles' amnesty.

The call came after relatives of people killed during the years of conflict gathered at Stormont yesterday to highlight concerns at British government proposals which would bring prosecutions to an end and also halt civil proceedings and inquests.

During the cross-community protest six relatives dressed as pallbearers carried a black coffin representing justice during a "requiem procession".

Other relatives also held posters in the shape of headstones with some including the words "democracy" and "Good Friday Agreement".

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, who organised the event, called on the US government to invite Stormont parties and the Irish and British governments to an "emergency summit".

He added that "the only way we can stop the British is with the intervention of the Biden administration".

"We have three months before the British legislate," he said.

"There needs to be an emergency summit in Washington, where Biden sends a representative of his administration to tell the British government that they can't go down this route.

"If they go down this route they're taking away the rule of law, accountability, victims' rights, and due process.

"We've had decades of conflict because there has been no democracy or rule of law.

"If they go down that route then the Good Friday Agreement is meaningless for families."

Brian Bradley's brother Francis was shot dead during an SAS ambush near Toome in February 1986.

His name was later added to the IRA's 'roll of honour'.

The 20-year-old's family believe he could have been arrested and was the victim of a ‘shoot to kill' policy.

In 2010 then Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new inquest into Mr Bradley's death.

A previous inquest had been held in 1987.

Brian Bradley last night said his family has been waiting 35 years for answers.

"It's been 11 years since the attorney general ordered a new inquest and now the British government want to close it down," he said.

"We would ask why they want to deny our family an inquest into the death of a loved one?

"Everyone else in society is entitled to this basic right so why should we be denied it?"

A UK government spokeswoman last night said: "The government is committed to continuing engagement with a range of stakeholders, including victims groups to find a way forward on legacy issues that focuses on reconciliation, delivers better outcomes for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations that is not working for anyone."

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