Troubles legacy plans branded ‘shameful’ and ‘a mess’

A man whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday has branded planned British government legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles as “shameful”.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 13th May 2022, 9:38 am

While the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is understood to have been “tweaked” in the face of opposition to its initial proposal for a statute of limitations, immunity from prosecution will be available to those who cooperate with an information retrieval body.

Aspects were outlined this week in the Queen’s Speech at Westminster but specifics remain negligible.

The British government said the bill aimed to end what it termed the “cycle of investigations that has failed both victims and veterans” and would focus on “information recovery and reconciliation”.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

Mickey McKinney.

A briefing document issued by Downing Street said the information-for-immunity model provided the “best route” to give victims and their families “the answers they have sought for years as well as giving our veterans the certainty they deserve”.

“This still leaves open the route of prosecution if individuals are not deemed to have earned their immunity,” the briefing note read.

In addition to a Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery, which would enable individuals and families to seek and receive information about Troubles-related incidents, the legislation would make provision for the delivery of an “oral history and the memorialisation of the Troubles”.

However, victims’ families, human rights groups and politicians have reacted angrily to what has, so far, been revealed.

Mickey McKinney, whose brother, Willie, was among those gunned down in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday, described the proposals as “a shameful affront to any democracy founded on the rule of law.”

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood criticised the lack of detail around the bill and accused the British government of continuing to act unilaterally in the face of widespread opposition.

He added: “Instead of working with local political parties to reach a consensus on dealing with the past, difficult as that may be, they continue to go it alone and have produced proposals that have failed to generate support from a single political leader in NI... This is another mess.”

The Pat Finucane Centre, which works with the families of many victims of the Troubles, claimed the new plan isn’t designed to serve the needs of victims or survivors.

“It is aimed solely at protecting state actors from prosecution who were involved in conflict-related deaths,” it added.