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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA

Open letter to British & Irish govt’s. on legacy & signed by 3,500 bereaved

Mark Thompson

CEO Relatives for Justice

In December 2014, and after many failed initiatives to address the past by all sides to the conflict, the Irish and British governments and all the main political parties finally agreed a set of mechanisms, that for the first time ever, held hope for human rights compliant investigations and accountability for the harms experienced by all those bereaved.

However, after failing to implement the agreement, the British government unilaterally broke its pledge last March saying they would seek a different way forward.

As the UN seeks a progress report on the implementation of legacy mechanisms 3,500 relatives of those killed, by all sides, have penned an open letter to the Irish and British governments calling for the agreement to be finally implemented.

Accounting for the past is a prerequisite to establishing a secure future for all our people across this island and between the islands of Ireland and Britain.

Fundamental to this is the promotion of human rights, justice and equality for all and an adherence to the rule of law. Under domestic and international law families have legal rights to effective remedy for the killings of their loved ones and the British government is denying these rights.

On December 14th Brandon Lewis said he would extend legislation equivalent to the Overseas Operations impunity Bill to the North. This will ensure British State forces, and by extension their agents, will be protected from prosecutions; thus dashing the hopes, and rights, to proper investigations to establish accountability.

Framed in a veil of jingoistic patriotism the British government alongside those with vested interest have peddled the lie that there are ‘witch-hunts’, ‘recycled investigations’ and ‘vexatious prosecutions’ surrounding State killings.

This lie, juxtaposed with presenting British soldiers and RUC members responsible for killings as ‘victims’ is an affront to human decency and the families of those they killed. It is beyond shameful. There is not one single example to back such dishonest claims. We challenge Brandon Lewis to provide evidence to the contrary.

What this is really about is avoiding any form of scrutiny that exposes the full extent of Britain’s role in the conflict.

In contrast the dignified call by thousands of relatives is a unified voice for lawful independent investigations through the proposed legacy mechanisms as contained within the Stormont House Agreement. It also an opposition to any form of amnesty.

Approximately half of those relatives who put their names to this letter are under the age of 35. This is the current and future generation, determined that the past will be resolved and accounted for.

This speaks to the transgenerational impact within families and communities of unspeakable and unresolved truths and is a clear message that the past isn’t going to be fudged or wished away.

The past is ever present. The demand that the past be dealt with is self-evident. Avoidance and denying rights is not sustainable. There is no different way forward. The only way forward is for full implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House.

Irish News Platform Article by Mark Thompson - CEO Relatives for Justice, Ireland - regarding open letter to British & Irish govt’s. on legacy implementation & signed by almost 3,500 bereaved relatives


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