Government's statute of limitations is final nail in so many coffins
I am not a victims’ campaigner. So I won’t waste time debating the pros and cons of the latest statute of limitations legacy proposals that Secretary of State Brandon Lewis outlined in the House of Commons. Nor will I get into the divisive discussion about who benefits most from this latest proposal on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.
I speak only for myself, my brother John and my mum and dad.
As the French Philosopher Voltaire once said: “To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.”
So, as I listened to Brandon Lewis and prime minister Boris Johnson speak in the House of Commons and heard Mr Lewis attempting to justify the government’s position in follow-up media interviews here is exactly how I personally felt.
You, Mr Lewis and the prime minister effectively stamped on the graves of my brother and my parents. Trampling the earth down deeper, ensuring that justice and the truth will forever remain buried along with them.
And in doing so you have shown no respect for those like myself, the living, still trying to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, in my case almost 33 years later.
I had come to accept that it was unlikely that I would ever see justice for John’s murder. No-one will see the inside of a courtroom or prison cell now so many years later.
So I had reluctantly and naively believed that perhaps one day I might see the truth being told. I am baffled to understand how your proposals will achieve this.
They essentially grant the gunman who killed John, and effectively my broken-hearted parents, the luxury of living the rest of his life in the reassuring knowledge that he will never be made answerable for his actions in any form. There is no incentive for him to tell me the truth. He has his official ‘get out of jail’ letter now.
So, how is this meant to enable community reconciliation and enable me to move forward, when everything is simply swept under the blood-stained carpet of deceit?
Well done prime minister. Great job secretary of state. Your statute of limitations is the final nail in so many coffins. What a legacy.
Belfast (Author of ‘They Killed The Ice Cream Man’)
Condemnation of China’s destruction of Hong Kong’s human rights
I was delighted the European Parliament has overwhelmingly passed a joint-resolution strongly condemning China’s continuing destruction of Hong Kong’s human rights and freedoms, especially China’s latest actions resulting in the closure of the leading pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Daily, and the arrest of journalists under the draconian National Security Law.
The resolution calls on the EU Commission and EU member states to take a series of concrete actions to respond to China’s treatment of Hong Kong, including implementing travel bans and asset freezes on Hong Kong officials, the introduction of an EU lifeboat scheme for Hong Kong citizens and the issuing of emergency travel documents for journalists, EU support for the creation of a UN Special Rapporteur or Envoy for Hong Kong, and the suspension of extradition treaties between EU member states and the People’s Republic of China.
Most importantly, MEP’s reiterated their position that they would continue to block ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and called for extending the scope of the European Endowment for Democracy to projects located in South-East Asia to support civil society and media, the expansion of Erasmus places covering academic and training places in Europe for Hong Kong citizens, and for EU member states to reach out to EU-based banks to release assets belonging to Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.
It is particularly welcome that, unlike some EU Institutions, the European Parliament gives priority to protecting human rights and freedoms rather than pursuing selfish trading interests.
The Irish government following its principled stances on the Middle East, Belarus and Tigray should follow the European parliament’s lead and ask the UK government to join with them in raising these issues in the UN Security Council.
Former European Parliament Rapporteur on Hong Kong, Lisnagry, Co Limerick
Remove the shackles
Sir Keir Starmer MP, leader of the Labour Party, visited Northern Ireland for a few days earlier this month. Like all previous leaders since the Good Friday Agreement he did not meet with the Labour Party members in Northern Ireland in LPNI. Labour Party members in Northern Ireland wish to ensure the success of the GFA by building a cross-community, inclusive Labour Party here. This will challenge sectarianism in all its forms and present a progressive political platform which will tackle the pervasive unfairness in our society and come up with solutions to the underlying problems. Opinion polls and election results show that society here wants to move on. People’s attitudes are evolving and new identities are emerging. Despite surface appearances to the contrary, the progressive centre ground is expanding. People desperately want a change.
We in the Labour Party here want to lead this change. But to do so, we need to have our shackles removed by the Labour leadership. We need Labour Party candidates standing in our elections with full official backing.
Unfortunately, party policy is to block change, ignore the Labour voice and suppress Labour electoral activity.
Instead of releasing the sort of politics that can ensure the success of our post GFA society, the party is an obstacle to progressive political development.
Labour Party NI
Thanks for the memory
The photograph by Mal McCann (July 7) of the pigeons at Belfast City Hall brought back so many happy memories for me. As a 16-year-old boy in the 1950s I was a message boy in a book shop in Donegall Square West and ate my ‘piece’ in the grounds and fed the ‘crusts’ to the birds – I didn’t think they would live so long.
JAMES H GILLILAND (81)
Bundoran, Co Donegal
Anyone who knows the first thing about England’s murderous history in Ireland will not be surprised by the announcement of an amnesty for British soldiers – that, after all, is why England is called ‘perfidious Albion’.
FR SEAN McMANUS
President, Irish National
Caucus, Washington DC