Campaigners demanding an end to the Troubles amnesty plan gain Westminster support
Victims of the unrest have received support from political parties in Westminster as they continue their campaign against a proposal to ban future conflict-related prosecutions.
In July, the government announced plans for a statute of limitations that would end all prosecutions for the Troubles incidents until April 1998, but a series of parties have now signed a pledge rejecting the proposals.
Military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries would be protected from prosecution under the measure.
The proposals would also end all investigations and civil actions related to the conflict.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measures would allow Northern Ireland to “end the unrest”.
Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in north Belfast in 1997, said a meeting held in Westminster on Wednesday “could not have gone better”.
He told the PA News Agency: “There was no way it could get better. Full support from all political parties in Westminster except the Conservatives. “
Mr McCord said the nine people who traveled to Westminster to meet with MPs had lost 15 family members to each other.
Speaking after the meeting, he referred to the murder of MP Sir David Amess, saying: ‘We all sympathize with the family but there is no way Boris Johnson would take a bet and insult this family as he insulted our families saying that we’re going to let the terrorists free themselves.
Mr McCord said Mr Johnson must abandon plans in the face of such widespread opposition.
“As a result of what happened here today in Westminster, for us and in the interests of democracy, truth and justice, he must withdraw these proposals. They have to be scrapped, ”McCord said.
He said the death on Monday of Army veteran Dennis Hutchings, who was on trial for the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham at Co Tyrone in 1974, was not discussed at the meeting.
Representatives of political parties signed a pledge at the meeting which read: “We, the undersigned, totally reject the UK government’s proposals to ‘deal with the past’, including amnesties for those who have committed murders.
“No individual, group, organization or state force / agent can be immune from prosecution.
“Investigations, prosecutions, investigations and civil actions cannot be abolished and due process must take place. “
The plan has already been heavily criticized by all major political parties in Northern Ireland, as well as by the Irish government and a number of victim and survivor groups.
SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood, who was among those who signed the pledge, said: ‘We now have the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the five parties of Northern Ireland. , against these proposals.
“The Conservative government should not be comfortable opposing all of this, opposing public sentiment in Northern Ireland and opposing the rule of law and equality before the law.
“The point is, if these murders and murders took place in Manchester, Liverpool or London, there is no way the British government will say there is no opportunity for truth or justice.”
Mr Eastwood said Boris Johnson’s “overriding ambition” was “to try to keep the dark corners in the dark”, adding: “They don’t want people to know what the state has done, or what the paramilitaries did, or what they did together, acting in unison, they don’t want that to happen.
Alliance MP Stephen Farry told the PA news agency: ‘There is an almost universal rejection of what is a de facto amnesty which has been proposed by the UK government, and which simply cannot be maintained.
“It will delay the process of inheritance for many, many, many decades, essentially eliminates the hope of many.
“And there is a huge resentment that the concept of reconciliation is used as a vehicle to justify these proposals, while many people see it as an obstacle to the process of reconciliation because they see truth and justice as an element. fundamental in this regard. “
Asked what he will say about the Prime Minister and the government if opposition to the proposals is ignored, Mr Farry said: ‘This is another example of his contempt for what Northern Ireland really thinks about the problems, whether in terms of what happened in relation to Brexit, in terms of respect for the Assembly having its own control over its budgets, and now in terms of legacy.
“They have a very particular vision of the world which they are determined to impose on Northern Ireland to meet an agenda perceived in England.
“And it’s very disruptive to cohesion across these islands.”
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew was also among those supporting the campaign in Westminster and said it was “very encouraging” to hear all sides agree that Boris Johnson’s proposals are “absolutely false and should never be adopted”.
Earlier, DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he believed a deal needed to be reached that “sets up a process that continues to provide access to justice for families at all levels” .
Ahead of the meeting in Westminster, he told the PA News Agency: “I think it is wrong to close the prospect of justice when there is new and compelling evidence that could lead to a conviction.
“I think we can question whether this was indeed the case with Dennis Hutchings, but I think as a principle we should continue to pursue and I hope that an agreement can be found on this. based.”