Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed that it is planning to end all prosecutions relating to crimes committed during the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
The decision has been widely condemned. It seems the government has set out to upset everybody except the criminals among both the security forces and paramilitary groups.
Groups representing the victims, together with representatives of the executive parties at Northern Ireland’s Stormont government, have expressed their opposition.
It seems victims’ groups haven’t even been consulted.
Labour leader Keir Starmer raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions today (July 14): “I worked in Northern Ireland for six years with the Policing Board and the police and I have prosecuted terrorists as the Director of Public Prosecutions, so I know how difficult and sensitive the issue is. But a blanket amnesty, including for terrorists, is plain wrong.
“It is absolutely clear that the Government’s amnesty is not supported by the political parties in Northern Ireland and it is not supported by victims’ groups. Last Thursday, I spoke to victims of terrorism at the WAVE Trauma Centre in north Belfast; they have not even been properly consulted on the proposal.
“If things are to move forward in Northern Ireland, any discussion has to start with the victims. Politicians in London cannot simply draw a line under terrorism and other crimes and then force it on those most affected.”
He quoted Julie Hambleton, whose sister was among the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub bombings, and who said: “Tell me Prime Minister, if one of your loved ones was blown up beyond recognition, where you were only able to identify your son or daughter by their fingernails…would you be so quick to grant their murderers an amnesty and propose such obscene legislation?”
Johnson had no comfort for Ms Hambleton – and admitted it: “Nothing I say or can do now can in any way mitigate her loss.”
But he said: “The people of Northern Ireland must, if we possibly can allow them to, move forwards now.
“There are many members of the armed services who continue to face the threat of vexatious prosecutions well into their 70s and 80s and later. We are finally bringing forward a solution to this problem to enable the Province of Northern Ireland to draw a line under the troubles.”
And he tried to turn the issue into an attack on Starmer by saying the plan had “a wide degree of support, if I may say so, from former Labour Prime Ministers and former Labour leaders who are of considerably more distinction than the right hon. and learned Gentleman”.
Is this true, fact checkers?
Johnson concluded: “Someone with greater statesmanship and clarity of vision would have seen that and given the proposals a fair wind.”
So, politicians who live and work in Northern Ireland – not to mention the victims of the crimes he is wiping off the record – lack statesmanship and clarity of vision, according to Johnson?
Forgive This Writer for putting forward an opinion on this matter, but it seems to me that Johnson is trying to put a stop to prosecutions – along with civil cases and inquests – because they seem too much like hard work and he can’t be bothered.
The BBC has reported that
Northern Ireland’s five main political parties, the Irish government and several victims’ groups have been highly critical of any suggested blanket ban on prosecutions for Troubles-era offences.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the “the proposals for an effective amnesty for Troubles-related crimes are totally unacceptable”.
Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said … the move was “an act of absolute bad faith by the British government”.
Victims of the Ballymurphy shootings in 1971 also expressed anger over the reports.
[And] Amnesty International rejected the proposals as showing an “appalling and offensive disregard for victims”.
The only voice raised in support of the proposals was that of Lord Dannatt, a former Army chief, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles – some of whose officers and men would have been under threat of prosecution if this amnesty does not happen.
And even he admitted that it “isn’t the solution to everyone’s problems”!
This is another back-of-a-fag-packet plan that reeks of Tory corruption. If they can’t make money out of a process, they simply aren’t interested.
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