‘Never-ending merry-go-round & chasing rainbows’: Troubles victims on a terror amnesty

The announcement, formally due this afternoon, that the government will seek to end all pre-1998 Troubles prosecutions, has met with complex and divided views from victims.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 7:00 am
A soldier stands guard after six people are injured in an IRA explosion at a pizzeria in Warrenpoint, 1991

The DUP position – that it “does not believe in an amnesty for anyone who perpetrated wrongful actions” – was echoed by Sandra Peake, chief executive of the WAVE Trauma Centre.

She said axing all prosecutions would be tantamount to “removing the glimmer of hope that somebody will be held to account” – and so “we cannot allow that to happen”.

Other victims gave a mixed response, indicating it can be mentally exhausting for cases to sit open year after year with such scant hope of progress.

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Wendy Gibson’s husband Ned (22) was shot dead in east Tyrone by the IRA while working as a bin man.

Nobody was even arrested over the killing.

She said: “I know a lot of people are very caught up with wanting justice for their families, but I personally don’t feel that’ll ever be the case – there won’t ever be a prosecution bought against anybody. I’ve accepted it, that there’s just never going to be any justice.

“It’s not that I don’t want justice.

“I just feel that I have to – for my own sanity – accept the fact nobody ever is going to be prosecuted [because] they didn’t investigate properly in the first place. ”

Hazel McCready, a former policewoman left badly wounded in an INLA shooting, said that for a long time now she has felt that obtaining justice is like “chasing rainbows”.

And Ann Travers, sister of IRA murder victim Mary (a schoolteacher killed while leaving Sunday mass in a botched attempted to murder her father) said: “The legacy process as it stood has let victims and survivors down very badly.

“They had their HET reports which for many people were very thin and didn’t really provide any additional information...

“I’m am personally feeling very tired today. I’m feel a bit sickened by it all.

“I feel politicians in general don’t really understand, haven’t grasped, the trauma we’re all dealing with.

“I know the likelihood of anybody ever being arrested and prosecuted for the murder of my sister... is so slim.

“However, I don’t think it’s right that my 23-year-old sister who was murdered should not have the law of the land behind her; that if new evidence was to come forward that her murder should be prosecuted.”

But she added that the constant prospect of some kind of development can take its toll.

“Going to see police officers, sitting and talking about your loved-one’s murder, saying they’re going to look into this, that and the other, and then when you go back to speak to them and they say ‘we do not have a lead for this’ and ‘that has not shown up anything’ – you go away, having not slept the night before...

“You walk out of that room, your heart down in your boots, and just feel: what’s the point?

“It’s like a merry-go-round I can’t get off.”

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