Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Europe

Victims ‘want no amnesty’ for Troubles-era killers, Irish tell UK

DUBLIN – The Irish government and Northern Ireland victims groups denounced Britain’s revised plans to offer immunity to killers from The Troubles – an announcement unwittingly made on the anniversary of the deadliest attack of the entire conflict.

The bill published Tuesday in Westminster was overshadowed by Britain’s nearly simultaneous threat to make unilateral changes to the post-Brexit trade protocol agreed with the EU.

But in Ireland’s parliament, Prime Minister Micheál Martin and the opposition leader, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, said both U.K. moves demonstrated the same contempt for the kind of joint London-Dublin diplomacy that had made the Good Friday peace agreement possible 24 years ago.

Martin said he had met groups representing victims from all sides of the Northern Ireland conflict, all of whom oppose Britain’s renewed determination to ban further prosecutions and lawsuits connected to unsolved Troubles-era crimes. Under the revised bill,  those involved in such violence would gain legal immunity only if they cooperate with a proposed truth-finding commission.

“Victims and survivors want no amnesty. They want full accountability. They want people brought before the courts if possible and they want people prosecuted. That’s the least they deserve,” Martin told lawmakers.

He called the British bill a “unilateral departure” from a previous 2014 deal, the Stormont House Agreement, jointly overseen by London and Dublin that committed the U.K. to creating new justice avenues for victims in Northern Ireland without closing other legal options. “I don’t believe any serious effort has been made to implement Stormont House at all,” he said.

Martin addressed Dáil Éireann after attending the 48th anniversary commemoration of the Dublin-Monaghan attack on May 17, 1974, when four car bombs were detonated without warning – three amid pedestrian crowds in the Irish capital, a fourth later in the border town. Most of the 33 dead were young women, including one 9 months pregnant.

Nobody was ever charged or convicted in connection with the bombs, all carried south in cars stolen earlier that day in Belfast. Unionist extremists from the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility, but Irish authorities long have suspected that the UVF members – among them paid police informants – had bomb-making help from British forces, an allegation explored inconclusively in an Irish state inquiry and advanced in all-party motions. The U.K. since has repeatedly denied Irish government requests for intelligence documents on the attack shielded by the Official Secrets Act.

In London, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis insisted that the bill wasn’t chiefly designed to protect retired British security forces from legal action – yet its full text includes priorities and conditions unmentioned in his office’s advance announcement.

These include conditions that all complaints against police involving events predating the Good Friday deal must be blocked.

Another section excludes from immunity anyone who already has “a conviction for a relevant Troubles-related offence” – a condition that makes thousands involved in the Irish Republican Army and other paramilitary groups ineligible.

McDonald accused Britain of shredding the Stormont House Agreement, which had been produced at another moment when power-sharing in Northern Ireland was at risk of collapse.

“It is akin to the actions of a rogue state,” she said of Britain. “They refuse to implement that which is agreed. They refuse to work in partnership with the Irish government. They treat families and survivors with utter contempt.”

But Martin drew a distinction between his position and McDonald, whose party includes senior veterans of the Provisional IRA, which committed more than 1,775 killings, nearly half of the Troubles death toll. McDonald’s predecessor as Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, was identified by the British and Irish governments as a longtime IRA commander but has never admitted any involvement.

“I stand with the victims of all atrocities, not just those perpetrated by the British armed forces,” Martin said. “We need full accountability in respect of all atrocities committed.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Europe

LONDON — Boris Johnson has finally been persuaded to resign, after more than one third of his own government colleagues — including a clutch...

Europe

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe. “Nothing in his lifeBecame him like the leaving it.” These lines, from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” are of...

Technology

Europeans risk seeing social media services Facebook and Instagram shut down this summer, as Ireland’s privacy regulator doubled down on its order to stop...

Europe

Kyiv is summoning Turkey’s ambassador to Ukraine after Ankara released the Zhibek Zholy cargo ship with “stolen” Ukrainian grain Wednesday evening, Ukraine’s Ministry of...

Europe

Press play to listen to this article LONDON — Boris Johnson will resign after a wave of government resignations and a revolt from his...

Europe

This article is the product of a POLITICO Working Group. Post-Brexit U.K. is looking for fields where it can get ahead of the EU —...

Technology

Jack Murphy* was suspicious. His ex-girlfriend, Eve Doherty, seemed to know a lot about who he was calling.  His suspicions were merited. Doherty had...

Industrial Policy

LIÈGE, Belgium — What if the pushchair you bought on a marketplace has no brakes — or if your air fryer catches fire while...