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'Every victim has a right to justice': Irish News readers slam Troubles legacy bill

Members of the Relatives for Justice victims group protest in London over the British government's controversial Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.
Paul Ainsworth

BRITISH government plans to bring an end to Troubles-related prosecutions and inquests have been almost universally criticised since being announced by former Secretary of State Brandon Lewis last year.

The proposed legislation, which is making its way through Westminster, will offer an effective amnesty to those accused of killings in return for cooperation with a new information recovery body.

Despite some amendments relating to the process of securing immunity from prosecution, it has been widely rejected by by political parties and victims' groups.

The Irish News recently invited readers to have their say on whether they thought it would help the process of dealing with the past.

Not one response agreed.

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Patricia Madden in Downpatrick said not only would the bill prevent healing, “it will compound hurt”. She added: “We cannot build peace on a foundation of lies.”

Stephen Rafferty in Belfast also said the wounds of the past would “fester” with the legislation.

"All victims should have the right to receive honesty, transparency and justice," he said.

Mark Kelly in Dundalk slammed the bill as a "disgusting piece of legislation", while Belfast’s Betty Tierney said the trauma of victims "will be passed to the next generation" as a result.

Sean Murray in Belfast predicted the bill would "bog down the courts with judicial challenges" and "undermine the rule of law", while Natasha Butler, also from the city, said it would "set victims, survivors and families back decades".

Tony Gargan in Belfast called it a "farce" and a "tool for the British government to hide the atrocities" of armed forces, while fellow Belfast resident Fiona Bunting suggested it was an "attempt to bury the truth and ignore years of violence and murder".

Paul McKenna in Belfast called the legislation a "retrograde step that will ease pain and anguish for absolutely no-one", while Pól Wilson, also in Belfast and whose uncle was shot dead by a soldier during the Falls curfew in 1970, claimed it will "leave a legacy of unanswered questions" and "cause more problems than it will ever solve".

In south Derry, Fiona Kearney said the bill will "add to the hurt and suffering which continues every day for the families of victims".

Feargal McCann from Co Galway said the legislation is a "slap in the face to all those who have engaged in the past to try and forge an acceptable way forward".

Alan Brecknell in Co Armagh said: "We need to acknowledge our troubled past, not brush it under a carpet. Every victim and survivor has a right to justice. No government should have the power to remove this right."

Padraig Yeates in Dublin said "this gross denial of justice to victim and their families is certain to be challenged in the courts".

He added: "An obvious solution would be to make the proposed route of redress in the bill an option for victims and survivors, while leaving the rapidly closing window of court proceedings open to them.

"Everyone acknowledges that very few of 1,400 or more outstanding murder investigations can be brought to finality, let alone thousands more involving people who suffered life-changing injuries."

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