Truth, justice and reconciliation

The perils of conditional amnesties

Sir, – On the same day (March 4th) that another letter from Padraig Yeates of the Truth Recovery Process is published in your paper, a coroner in Belfast halted an inquest into the murder of Sean Brown by loyalists in 1997, due to material being withheld by the British government on the grounds of national security (News, March 4th). The coroner is to write to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland requesting a public inquiry into the murder.

The latest letter from Mr Yeates refers to the rejection of key elements of the NI Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act by the High Court in Belfast, and the conclusion of the £40 million Kenova investigation without producing one case that meets the requirements for launching a credible prosecution. He states that these “are just the latest demonstrations of the inability of the courts to secure truth and justice in so many cases”.

The action in the High Court was taken by relatives of victims trying to stop truth and justice being denied them by the British government. The fact that no prosecutions are flowing from the Kenova inquiry is a decision of the Public Prosecution Service, therefore no court has been involved.

Mr Yeates’s letter also proposes that conditional amnesties would be offered where victims and survivors agree to such an option, and former combatants could not incriminate others. How will this work for a combatant who has been involved in a number of murders, such as a member of the Glenanne Gang? Will all of the relatives of the victims of this notorious gang have to agree to the conditional amnesty? What if some do and others don’t? – Yours, etc,