Amnesty move will only ‘perpetuate pain’: Derry Bishop

The Bishop of Derry says British government plans to end all Troubles-era prosecutions is guaranteed only to “perpetuate the pain, not draw a line under it”.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 9:51 am
The British government says it wants to 'draw a line under' the NI Troubles.

Dr Donal McKeown, speaking at Mass in Derry at the weekend, said the effect of the current government proposals on legacy was to “prevent too much prying into dark corners of a dirty war”.

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, British PM Boris Johnston said his legacy proposals would allow NI to ‘draw a line under the Troubles’.”

Bishop McKeown said that, as in every conflict, the majority of those who died during the NI Troubles were not combatants but bystanders and civilians.

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“So many deaths of the innocent may be an embarrassment to those who killed them,” he added. “But their deaths and injury have scarred thousands, many of whom dare not speak about their loss as it would undermine narratives about heroic warriors.

“We know from Church life that there is a temptation to hide uncomfortable truths. Dark secrets are always unwelcome.

“The effect of the current government proposals on legacy is to prevent too much prying into dark corners of a dirty war. That will protect reputations but will not help the hurting ones for whom Jesus was most concerned.

“A system that appears to prioritise the feelings of the perpetrators over the distress of the victims is guaranteed only to perpetuate the pain, not draw a line under it. Just because some powerful people prefer to keep the truth hidden is no reason for civic leadership to facilitate that. Just as the abuse of children over half a century ago should be investigated to see what we can learn, so, too, the killing of innocent men, women and children should not be locked away beyond prying eyes.

“We have to proclaim and show that divine pity is more important that political propriety.”