Letter from US politicians attacking British legacy plan “coordinated with academics and Irish Foreign Office”
The Malone House Group described a letter from members of the US Congress to Boris Johnson as part of a “coordinated response” to London’s plan to curtail investigations into NI’s troubled past.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, US politicians called on the UK government to reaffirm its commitment to the Stormont House deal and expressed concern that the proposed inheritance laws would strain Anglo relations. Irish and “cement the widespread feeling” that justice is being denied.
In July, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced plans for a statute of limitations that would end prosecution for incidents of The Troubles until April 1998 and apply to military veterans as well as ‘to the paramilitaries.
But Jeff Dudgeon, who is the chairman of the Malone House Group, which he says is a recognized NGO in Strasbourg, said: “This statement is part of a coordinated response to the NIO’s proposals to end investigations into the unrest. . The Dublin Foreign Office, alongside its academic allies, is doing everything to oppose the government’s plan to end the law of the past decade.
Mr. Dudgeon added: “The American opposition, in particular, must be taken seriously even if it is of partisan origin. There are a few Republicans among the signatories of Congress.
“So we hope that our embassy in Washington is working on them to inform the realities here – that the local parties are united only against this latest article of the amnesty legislation and totally disagree on the alternatives while the agreement of Stormont House (which was never agreed to by all parties) is simply no longer relevant.
The legacy proposals from London, which Mr Johnson said will allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under unrest”, would also end all inquiries and civil actions related to the conflict.
Any notion of amnesty has been widely condemned by activists on both sides of the Troubles Division and politicians across the spectrum.
But Mr Dudgeon said: “With all parties, including Jon Boutcher of Kenova, agreeing that there will be no more prosecutions and the QUB Law School no longer offering jail terms for veterans of the army, the question is how much time, money and effort should be spent in inheritance.
“European law is unclear and varied on such statute of limitations legislation, especially as the judgments of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights are increasingly challenged by the Supreme Court in London. This is an area worthy of both legal and academic debate, both here and in America, if members of Congress and lawyers engage in it. “
The US letter, led by Congressmen Brendan Boyle and Brian Fitzpatrick, was signed by 36 members.
They said it would be a “serious mistake” for the UK government to renege on its commitments under the Stormont House deal, adding that it would result in “major setbacks” in the search for justice and justice. reconciliation.
They said they were “disappointed” that the UK government was considering introducing new legislation that would change the laws inherited from the agreement.
“To be clear, we strongly disapprove of these proposals,” they added.
“We believe that they would not only prevent access to justice, but that they would also deprive these families of their legal rights protected by European law and the Good Friday Agreement.
“The issue of legacy murders spans generations and any continued deprivation of justice will only further aggravate the hurt this story has inflicted on Britain and Ireland.
“We are concerned that these legacy laws will strain Anglo-Irish relations and reinforce the widespread feeling that justice is denied.
“There is no doubt that the difficult and troubling legacy of the past must be addressed, and we, as members of Congress, will continue to advocate for this issue until good faith action is taken and that progress be made.
“These legacy proposals require a real reconsideration. Providing answers to these bereaved families has been a long-standing priority for the Irish American community and those interested in world peace. We will continue to listen to these families as they await long overdue answers.
“We urge you to reconsider these proposals, reverse the decision and reaffirm your commitment to the Stormont House deal.”
They also expressed concern that the Historical Investigations Unit, established under the 2014 Accord, has been slow to investigate legacy cases, calling it “stagnant”.
“If the Historical Investigations Unit had received the resources and attention it was promised, more substantial progress could have been made in recent years,” they added.
Part of the push for a statute of limitations is an attempt to prevent British Army veterans who served during the unrest from being dragged to court decades later.
• A UK government spokesperson said: “The government’s deepest condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones during the unrest.
“The current treatment system from the past is not working well for anyone, especially for victims and survivors. It does not do justice or information to the vast majority of families.
“The government wants to propose an approach that builds on the principles of the Stormont House agreement and takes into account the comments we have heard and continue to hear from stakeholders and those most affected.
“Obtaining information, through thorough and solid investigations, is the cornerstone of the government’s proposals. This would be conducted by an independent body and supported by full state disclosure. The government continues to engage and reflect on what we have heard, and we are carefully considering our next steps. “
But Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jr. was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, said: “The only people who agree with these proposals are those who are trying to get them through.
“Why are Boris and (Northern Ireland Secretary) Brandon Lewis so eager to get this through?” If people are innocent, why would they need an amnesty? The only people who need amnesty are the culprits.
“The letter is a huge step forward because we have the support of the world’s greatest democracy, powerful people in Congress.
“Boris is told he’s breaking the Good Friday deal.
“It’s a huge boost, not only for my family, but for all the victims.
“I really welcome this letter. We have politicians from the continent on board, we have politicians from Dublin and Northern Ireland on board, and now we have America on board.
“Each of them rejects the proposals. This will put a lot of pressure on Boris Johnson.
“Which prime minister would want to grant amnesty to murderers?”
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