Boris Johnson warned by victims that Troubles amnesty would be ‘fundamentally wrong’

A cross-community group representing victims and survivors of the Troubles has warned the prime minister it would be “fundamentally wrong” to grant an amnesty for all killings.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:00 am
IRA volunteers on a training mission in 1989. The government is believed to be in favour of ending all prosecutions for Troubles killings
IRA volunteers on a training mission in 1989. The government is believed to be in favour of ending all prosecutions for Troubles killings

The Wave Trauma centre has written an open letter to Boris Johnson following the recent collapse of high-profile Troubles cases.

The letter argues that dealing effectively with “complex and sensitive legacy issues” will not be done by “perverting the criminal justice system”.

Proposals briefed to the Times newspaper in May suggested that the government is planning to end all prosecutions for suspected offences, whether carried out by veterans or by republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

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“Those briefings have confirmed that the core motivation behind the policy is not to deal with complex legacy issues in a coherent and sensitive way, but rather to protect veterans from potential prosecution by a de facto amnesty that will include the very paramilitaries who murdered their colleagues as well as thousands of civilians,” the letter states.

“We simply cannot believe that veterans would want that to happen to the families of their fellow service men and women killed during the Troubles.

“If anyone in Downing Street or the Ministry of Defence or the Northern Ireland Office seriously thinks that an amnesty of this nature can form the foundation upon which reconciliation could be built then it shows how little they understand the nature of the pain and trauma which continues to be suffered by victims and survivors and their families.”

It emerged on Friday that the prosecution of two former soldiers for Troubles killings, including two on Bloody Sunday, are to be halted.

The Public Prosecution Service announced that the case against Soldier F for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972 will not proceed.

The prosecution of another veteran, Soldier B, for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in Londonderry later in 1972, will also not proceed, the PPS said.

The open letter to the prime minister asks: “Would the families of the 7/7 bombings, or the Manchester bombing, or any other atrocity be asked to draw a line under their own grief and pursuit of justice?”

Among the signatories to the letter are Cathy McCann, chair of the Wave Trauma Centre, whose father was murdered by the B Specials auxiliary police in 1969, in a case that remains unresolved.

In 1990, Ms McCann was severely injured as the sole survivor in a roadside bomb in which a nun and three policemen were murdered by the Provisional IRA.

Other signatories include former Wave chair Damien McNally, whose father was murdered by loyalists in 1976 in an unresolved case, Rev Dr David Clements, whose father was an RUC officer murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1985 and Jean Caldwell, whose husband was murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1992.