Northern Ireland news

Ancient Order of Hibernians: Legacy proposals an 'affront' to the Good Friday Agreement

AOH president Danny O'Connell at the Hatfield Street memorial to those killed in the Sean Graham bookmakers attack. Picture by Mark Marlow

THE British government's legacy proposals are a "total affront to the Good Friday agreement", the head of an Irish American organisation has said.

Speaking during a visit to Belfast, Danny O'Connell, the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), said the government had effectively "ripped up" the 1998 peace accord.

Under the legacy proposals, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, all prosecutions, legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict will end.

"It's one more time that the British government is taking up international treaties and ripping them up because it's not convenient for them," Mr O'Connell said.

"It concerns everybody in America. I can't understand how we could deal with a government, moving forward, that refuses to provide justice that they agreed to to these families.

And he added: "This is an international treaty that the United States had strong influence over... For the British government to rip it up is an atrocity. It's an affront."

Mr O'Connell yesterday met families of those killed by the UDA at the Sean Graham bookmaker's shop in south Belfast in 1992.

Pictured at the Hatfield Street memorial are Jim Clinton, David Kennedy, Patrick Magee and AOH national president Danny O'Connell with Mark Sykes, Billy McManus, Tom duffin and Mark Thompson. Picture by Mark Marlow

During his visit to Belfast, he also met the families of those killed in the 1972 'Springhill massacre' and the New Lodge Six shooting in 1973.

On Friday, he presented justice campaigner Geraldine Finucane with the Sean McBride Humanitarian Award.

Mr O'Connell said there is strong opposition in the US to the government's legacy plans.

A total of 36 members of Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, have signed a letter opposing the proposals.

Mr O'Connell also said he was concerned by delays in a major Police Ombudsman investigation into the murders of 12 people, including those killed during the Sean Graham massacre.

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson had been expected to publish a report on a series of loyalist murders in south Belfast this autumn.

A delayed report into the murders was sent to the PSNI earlier this year to be fact checked.

However, Police Ombudsman's Office said the process has not concluded "and there remains outstanding matters".

SDLP MP Claire Hanna yesterday welcomed an Irish News editorial on the issue and said the Ormeau Road families should not face any more delays.

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