UK should take Irish Government to court over 'outrageous failings' on Troubles legacy

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The UK should consider taking the Irish Government to court over “outrageous failings” in addressing the legacy of the Troubles, according to a victims’ advocacy group.

Last month, Irish premier Leo Varadkar’s said he would “give consideration to whether an interstate case is appropriate” in an attempt to prevent the NI Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill becoming law in the UK.

The new legislation, which is nearing the end of its passage through Westminster, would provide immunity for people accused of crimes during the Troubles, as long as they co-operate with a new truth recovery body in. The Bill would also halt future civil cases and inquests linked to killings during the conflict.

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The Relatives for Justice (RFJ) group claimed the Irish government has a “moral” and a “legal” obligation to taken an interstate case if the bill becomes law. States can lodge applications against each other in the European Court of Human Rights under article 33 of the ECHR.

Irish army and Irish police at a border checkpoing in the late 1980sIrish army and Irish police at a border checkpoing in the late 1980s
Irish army and Irish police at a border checkpoing in the late 1980s

However, Lurgan-based Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) says it is hypocritical of Dublin to adopt such a threatening stance when it itself refuses to legislate on the vexed issue of the past.UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We don’t like what is being pushed through Westminster, but the threat from the Irish Government rings hollow.“The Irish Government seems to want it all their own way, yet they shy away from shining a light on what the Republic of Ireland did and didn’t do during the Troubles. One has to ask why the reluctance?”Mr Schmidt added: “Their hands are far from clean when you consider the number of barbaric attacks that were planned and launched from the safe haven across the border. For decades the terrorists walked freely and even today, there are people living there who were never made amenable for their crimes.

“What we see here is a hypocritical stance being adopted by Dublin. Irrespective of whether the Republic of Ireland carries out its threat of taking the UK Government to the European Court of Human Rights, the UK Government should give urgent consideration to launching legal proceedings of its own against Dublin over its outrageous failings to allow terrorist murderers and bombers to escape justice and carry out vile acts in Northern Ireland against innocent victims.”