Northern Ireland

Troubles victims accuse Government of abandoning them with Legacy Bill

Michael O’Hare has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella O’Hare (Victoria Jones/PA)
Michael O’Hare has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella O’Hare (Victoria Jones/PA)

Victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles have accused the UK Government of abandoning them, after its controversial Legacy Bill passed its final hurdle at Westminster.

MPs on Tuesday rejected a Lords’ amendment to the Bill, which is now on the verge of becoming law.

It includes a form of limited immunity for some perpetrators of crimes committed during the Northern Ireland Troubles and would also prevent future civil cases and inquests into legacy offences.

Read more:

Book claims 'flustered' Gerry Adams vetoed Martin McGuinness's plan to support blanket amnestyOpens in new window ]

Majella O’Hare shooting
Majella O’Hare was killed by a soldier in 1976 (Family handout/PA)

Michael O’Hare, brother of Majella O’Hare, who was shot dead by a British soldier in County Armagh when she was 12 in 1976, said: “The Government has abandoned victims in favour of protecting those who took the lives of our loved ones.

“There are no words to express how deep that betrayal cuts.

“It is not right for the Government to decide who gets justice for serious crimes such as murder and who doesn’t.

“I will continue to fight – the lives of our loved ones mattered.

“This isn’t over.”

Campaigner Raymond McCord
Prominent victims campaigner Raymond McCord said he would take the Government to court (Rebecca Black/PA)

Campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was murdered by loyalists in 1997, said the Government had shown no compassion for victims.

He said: “With the Conservatives using their majority in the House of Commons today to impose their Legacy Bill against the wishes of the  victims of the Troubles, victims’ groups, every other political party in the UK and Ireland.

“My next step is taking the Government to court.

“The Government simply don’t care about truth and justice.

“After the vote in the Commons today all political action is complete.

“However the outcome of the Bill will be decided by the courts.”

Mr McCord added: “The democratic justice process that has been in place for hundreds of years will be destroyed by a Conservative Government with no morals, sense of compassion for victims or respect for human rights laws.”

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at the victims’ organisation South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) said the UK Government had “effectively relinquished their responsibilities in overseeing justice”.

He added: “It is regrettable that they were not willing to accept the very reasonable amendment which came from the House of Lords yesterday which would have ensured that victims and survivors could feel somewhat empowered.

“No-one should be offered the prospect of immunity without owning the crimes they have committed, of expressing remorse and of making redress through demonstrating a commitment to peaceful and democratic principles.”