‘Bin the Legacy Bill’ protests have been taking place in Derry, Belfast and London as a bid to end conflict-related prosecutions and investigations takes place at the Westminster parliament.
Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has called on the British government to bin its ‘cruel, callous and offensive’ Legacy Bill and its attempts to block families’ access to truth and justice.
Speaking from London, John Finucane said the Legacy Bill would “pull down the shutters on hundreds of victims and families who are campaigning for truth and justice.
“Seeking to prevent families from exercising their right to seek truth and justice for their loved ones is cruel, callous and offensive.
“There has been widespread opposition to this legislation, not only from victims and families, but also political parties, human rights experts and senior political figures in Europe and the US.
“Only today church leaders in the north have also said that the Bill will not achieve any of its objectives and will prevent relatives of victims from getting investigations which are human rights compliant.
“It’s simply not good enough that the British government wants to cover up its role in the conflict and let its own state forces, who killed Irish citizens, off the hook.”
He said he had joined campaigners in London on Wednesday “to make it clear this flawed legislation once again must be scrapped and the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House implemented in a human rights complaint manner.”
There were also powerful denunciations of the bill at a parallel protest in Derry. ‘Minty’ Thompson’s mother Kathleen was aged 47 when she was shot dead by the British Army as she stood outside her home in Creggan on November 6, 1971.
Mrs Thompson was among six civilians who were shot dead by British soldiers in Derry in 1971 alone. Earlier this year, after decades of campaigning, an inquest ruled that the British soldier who shot the mother-of-six was unjustified in firing the shots that killed her.
Addressing the protest rally, Minty warned the new legacy bill will deny this recourse to other families.
“We would not have got the truth without the inquest and that is what they want to deny other families: no investigations, no court cases, no truth and no justice,” she said.
“The British government claim that we need to draw a line under the past to help us move on but this is another lie. They just want to draw a line under their own past.
“We can’t move on while there are so many open wounds in our society, so many families hurting for what was done to them, so many families who have spent years or decades trying to get the truth about what happened to their loved ones.”
Ms Thompson said delivering truth and justice for everyone will undoubtedly be ‘a painful process’ but added that it must happen if ‘we ever want to move on in this conflict’.
She asked: “How can it be right that one of the parties to the conflict has control over how it is dealt with?”
Addressing the protest, she noted: “Over 3,600 people were killed in the conflict here. Their families are entitled to truth and justice. We should not have to say this. It should be accepted by all as a basic human right. One in ten died directly at the hands of the British forces. Hundreds more because of British collusion with paramilitary groups. Their families are equally entitled to truth and justice.
“Again, this should not have to be said. All are entitled to truth and justice but the British government are trying to deny truth and justice for all.”
Describing the amnesty bill as ‘shameful’ she stated: “We must stop this bill by whatever means possible. We must never give up. We must fight on. We will fight on. We will not go away until truth and justice are achieved.”