The British government has been accused of retraumatising victims of the conflict after legislation for a broad amnesty for its war criminals in the north of Ireland was rushed through the House of Commons.
No Irish MPs, nationalist or unionist, supported the bill. After passing its third stage this week it will come before the House of Lords in the autumn, but there is little expectation it will be stopped there.
Relatives of Justice said families had been retraumatised by the actions of the Tory MPs whose votes had ensured the motion passed.
“Families affected by all actors and from all backgrounds. Nevertheless they are never giving up. Our loved ones mattered, are loved and we will see justice done,” they said.
The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, said that the bill raised questions about compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the impunity the bill may deliver.
It was branded a “whitewash” by SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood.
“What we are doing today is utterly shameful. It is a whitewash on a grand scale. It is an opportunity for impunity and it would not be allowed to stand in any other part of the United Kingdom.
“This says an awful lot that we are quietly and coldly walking through lobbies to bring this about today.”
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said the British government had demonstrated “no regard” for victims and survivors by rushing the flawed bill through Westminster.
“The views of victims and survivors, political parties and the Human Rights Commission are all stacked against this flawed legislation, but the Tories are ignoring those views and pushing it through anyway,” he said.
“They are demonstrating total disregard for victims and their families, many of whom have spent five decades searching for truth and justice.
“People have seen this plan as more cover-up by a British government that wants to let its own state forces off the hook for killing Irish citizens during the conflict and shut down a route to justice.
“If Boris Johnson is serious about truth and justice, his government would implement the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, a deal they negotiated with the Irish government and the political parties, which provides mechanisms to give victims and families truth and justice in a human rights compliant manner.
“The British government should listen to the voices of victims and families and bin this flawed legislation now.”