Double take: SF MLAs’ strikingly similar contributions to amnesty debate

One aspect of Tuesday’s Stormont debate over Troubles prosecutions which has gone unnoticed is that Michelle O’Neill and her Sinn Fein colleagues gave remarkably similar-sounding contributions.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 10:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 10:32 am
Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill.

The SF Deputy First Minister, former IRA man-turned North Belfast MP Gerry Kelly, and national chairman Declan Kearney used very similar (and at one point, literally identical) phrasing during the special sitting of the Assembly.

During the debate all parties trashed the government’s idea of a blanket amnesty for pre-1998 crimes.

Ms O’Neill’s contribution was as follows: “The proposals are about more than providing legal protection for those who wore uniforms; they are actually about protecting those who wore suits.

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“They are about protecting those in the upper echelons of the British political, military and intelligence world who designed, facilitated and covered up the policy and practice of British state terrorism, which involved state killings and torture practices in the interrogation centres, and presided over weapons importation and the administrative practices of collusion.

“Ultimately, the proposals are designed to insulate and protect British politicians at the highest level of government...

“It was a policy of collusion that armed and directed loyalist paramilitaries, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Irish citizens, including many in my constituency.”

Mr Kelly then went on to state: “The proposals protect those behind the scenes, those in suits and the shadowy figures in the upper echelons who facilitated state killings, designed torture practices in interrogation centres, and presided over weapons importation and the administrative practice of collusion.”

And Mr Kearney then rose to tell MLAs: “The strategic purpose of the amnesty proposals is to protect the policy and decision-makers at the heart of the British political, military and intelligence establishment, the shadowy and not so shadowy figures and those whose Cabinet decisions and public interventions institutionalised and gave cover to the violence of state forces and their agents, those who presided over state-sponsored massacres and the summary executions of Irish citizens and authorised the reorganisation and arming of unionist paramilitary death squads...

“They are about blocking any investigation of the internment and torture policy, the recruitment of counter-gangs to carry out assassinations in nationalist areas, the use of intelligence and psychological operations, the political approval for shoot-to-kill operations by clandestine military operations.”

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