Troubles victims to step up campaign against proposed ban on prosecutions

British government plans to end all prosecutions for incidents prior to April 1998

Raymond McCord (centre) after a meeting of victims of the Troubles in August. Photograph: PA Photo

Raymond McCord (centre) after a meeting of victims of the Troubles in August. Photograph: PA Photo

 

Victims of the Troubles will return to Westminster this week as they step up their campaign against a proposed ban on future prosecutions related to the conflict.

The British government announced plans in July for a statute of limitations that would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents prior to April 1998.

Military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries would be protected from prosecution under the measure. The proposals would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

British prime minister Boris Johnson said the measures would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”. The plan has been heavily criticised by all the main political parties in Northern Ireland as well as the Government in Dublin and a range of victims and survivors’ groups.

One group of bereaved families have secured support from politicians on both sides of the Border for their campaign against the proposals. Several of those elected representatives will join the victims at a meeting in Westminster on Tuesday.

Ahead of the visit, Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in north Belfast in 1997, said: “Our prime minister disrespects the victims and families of terrorism by telling them that by not even trying to get justice, truth and peace and by giving an amnesty to murderers and rapists it will help bring reconciliation and help victims and families to move on. Who believes that? Not one victim I know does.

“Destroying the truth by dismantling the justice system is the action of either someone insane or a dictator hiding the state’s involvement. A prime minister afraid of the truth.”

Mr McCord said the victims involved in the campaign come from all sections of the community.

“Together we have got every major party on the island of Ireland to sign up to a document rejecting the proposals and supporting our cross-community group,” he said.

“Together we have created history on a divided island with those signatures. It was a first and we haven’t finished yet. It’s unheard of with all the parties signing the same document in agreement. Even the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement didn’t have all the parties signing it. The power of doing the right thing.”

He added: “We are not Protestant victims or Catholic victims, we are victims. I am proud of what we have achieved up to now and I’m proud to call all of them my friends.

“We call upon all the citizens in the UK to reject these proposals, stand up to Boris Johnson and his self-serving, justice-dismantling proposals as he tries to hide the truth of the murders of thousands of innocent people.” – PA