Human rights activists attacked by Tories and DUP


British Prime Minister Theresa May has been condemned after she hit out at the families of those killed by British soldiers and their legal representatives during a debate at the Westminster parliament.

May told the House of Commons that “it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of dragging our brave troops through the courts”.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill said May had insulted the many victims of British state forces and described the comments as “dangerous and disgraceful”.

“In the past we have had attacks, directed by the British government through its agents and proxies, on those who have campaigned to uphold the rights of victims and who have worked to hold the British state to account,” she said.

“Those who work for human rights and who hold the British state to account should not be subject to this disgraceful attack. No one can be above the law and everyone should be held to account.”

May’s comments recalled those of Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg who in 1989 told MPs in the Commons that some lawyers in Belfast were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”. Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane was murdered weeks later by a loyalist unit almost entirely comprised of British agents.

This week the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed the appeal by the Finucane family against the refusal of the Tory government to honour its commitment to a public inquiry into his assassination.

May’s comments were also matched by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who launched an extraordinary tirade against those organisations who pursue justice for victims of state killings and war crimes.

“It is wrong that our veterans are sitting at home, wondering if perhaps a third or a fourth investigation is now going to take place into their case, simply because some hot, fast-thinking, make-a-quick-buck human rights lawyer in Belfast thinks it’s a good idea to reopen this case,” he told MPs.

In response, Mark Thomson of Relatives for Justice said it was the clearest example of double standards on the part of the DUP and Tories given their continued stance against any form of amnesty.

“We need to be clear for families; there is no time limit on criminal activity, killings and murder that the British army were involved in here. There will be no statute of limitations. This is illegal in domestic and international law and any attempt will be challenged in the courts and the UK government know that full well.”

He said there was an attempt to present soldiers as victims when they might be asked for the first time ever, in an independent way, about killings they carried out.

“It is a rearguard action by the ‘establishment’ against any form of accountability concerning the past,” he said.

“Defending the indefensible as they did throughout the conflict is no longer an option as part of transition in which they will finally be held to account within a human rights compliant process. This too includes accounting for agents, collusion and murder.

“Nonetheless presenting armed soldiers who killed people here as victims is insulting and deeply offensive to the many hundreds of families who had loved ones killed by the British army.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2017 Irish Republican News