Victims hit out over talks on amnesty

The brother of an RUC officer murdered by the IRA said yesterday that terrorist victims were "flaming mad" that a Government-sponsored reconciliation group is discussing an amnesty for paramilitaries.

Dr Hazlett Lynch was speaking after attending a public meeting held by the Consultative Group on the Past in Londonderry on Tuesday night.

The independent group, co-chaired by Lord Robin Eames and Denis Bradley, aims to build "a shared future that is not overshadowed" by the Troubles.

"The whole direction of the meeting was that in dealing with the past everyone is on an equal footing," said Dr Hazlett.

"My brother Kenneth was murdered 30 years ago by the IRA when senior republicans still prominent today were giving orders on the IRA Army Council.

"One of the things raised at the meeting was an amnesty. But if those calling for an amnesty are also

victims, then why do they need an amnesty?"

Dr Lynch, who has a PhD in theology and philosophy, chairs the West Tyrone Voice group, which has around 2,300 beneficiaries – mainly security force victims of the Troubles.

He said that many republicans had publicly distanced themselves from an amnesty because it would have to be globally applied and would therefore block future accusations against the security forces.

"I have been speaking to many

people who are flaming mad about the direction this whole thing is

taking," he said.

"One former policeman in his 50s told me his family can't live with him at the minute and he can't live with them.

"Why does this quango want to trample down the victims and why is it trying to disempower innocent

victims?

"If the security forces have made a genuine mistake in shooting someone I have no problem with them being considered an innocent victim.

"But if that person was on a killing spree when they were killed that is entirely different. I find that suggestion completely repulsive in the so-called reconciliation industry."

Dr Lynch said he recognised that forgiveness could be separate from the judicial process: "My pursuit of justice is not about revenge," he said.

"People at the meeting in Londonderry were talking too glibly about forgiveness – one of them was a man who described his dead

brother as 'an IRA soldier'."

A spokesman for the Consultative Group on the Past said: "Dealing with the past is an immensely difficult issue.

"Since September the group has listened to a wide range of views from across our society. Only when that public consultation has ended will the group begin the difficult task of making recommendations."