High-profile victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer says he would consider a form of immunity for his father’s killers as part of the Haass recommendations on the past.
Former US envoy to Northern Ireland, Dr Richard Haass, is chairing talks on dealing with tensions around flags, parades and dealing with the past. He is aiming to conclude his work here before the New Year.
On Tuesday, First Minister Peter Robinson said he would not rule out listening to proposals offering immunity from prosecution in return for information on Troubles murders.
“I think we’ll look at what the proposition is and judge it when we see the detail,” said the DUP leader.
Yesterday, Mr Frazer, spokesman for victims’ group FAIR, told the News Letter that while the majority of terror victims would reject any immunity for perpetrators, he was prepared to consider it.
His contacts, he said, are widely referring to the experience of June McMullan, widow of RUC constable John Proctor who was murdered by the IRA in 1981. Last month, Seamus Martin Kearney, 57, from Maghera, was given a life sentence for the murder but will serve at most two years under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
Mr Frazer said most of his contacts were telling him: “That is what we want, Willie.”
He added: “We are not speaking for everyone. But the people we are in contact with, the majority are saying – ‘justice or nothing’.”
But Mr Frazer said he would not be opposed to individual families granting some form of immunity, on their own terms.
“It is up to individuals. If that is what they want, okay.
“But there are problems. If information is divulged to Family A because they agree to immunity, what happens if the same person killed someone from Family B. The second family is entitled to that knowledge for prosecution.
“Personally, I would consider looking at it [immunity] because I have known the people who killed my dad up close for 35-40 years. I know who they are.
“I could probably live with that [immunity], if they made public what they did.
“But it would have to be warts and all, they would have to admit how close they were to our family.
“It mightn’t be the best but, personally speaking, I could live with that.”
He would “like to hear what they have to say and challenge them on it”.
When his family lived in Whitecross in south Armagh, some of the people he believes killed his father regularly socialised in his home, up until 1973-4. After that the Provisional IRA “took more control” of the Catholic community, he said.
“Republicans saw the possibility of information being passed about them, so they tried to discourage Protestants and Catholics from socialising.”
His father Bertie was then murdered by the IRA in 1975.
“They never came back to our home after the murder. But some of their family circle came to the funeral. My mother got over 1,000 mass cards.”
Last year, Mr Frazer told the News Letter that “four or five” older generation IRA men who had been friends with his father recently apologised to him for the murder. One had even carried his father’s coffin, he said.
By contrast, he said, the Provisional IRA had been “vicious” and “only interested in killing Prods”.