Britain’s Big Lie
Britain’s Big Lie


British Direct Ruler Chris Heaton-Harris was accused of delivering “breathtaking fake news” after claiming there is “no alternative” to legislation which includes a full amnesty for British war crimes in the north of Ireland.

The ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation)’ Bill is set to pass into law despite being opposed by the North’s five main political parties, victims’ and human rights groups, the Dublin government, other parties in Ireland and in Britain, and internationally.

Daniel Holder, director of the Committee for Justice, described the comments by Heaton-Harris as “breathtaking fake news.”

He said: “The British government dragged its feet on implementing the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, which was agreed by the two governments and most of the NI parties, and received widespread support in the NIO’s own public consultation.

“In the January 2020 New Decade New Approach deal the British government committed to legislation to implement the Stormont House Agreement ‘within 100 days’

“Two months later the new Secretary of State Brandon Lewis unilaterally tore up the Stormont House Agreement with a view to protecting soldiers from investigations.

“It is simply not true that no alternatives were presented – the UK government refused to implement and reneged on an existing peace process agreement, including a treaty, with the Irish government.”

Heaton-Harris was also condemned this week for taking part in a champagne celebration following the passage through parliament of the legislation, dubbed the ‘Bill of Shame’ by the families of conflict victims.

While he denied the champagne event was connected to the vote, it was also openly celebrated by fellow Tory Minister Johhny Mercer, who trumpeted the amnesty for members of the Crown Forces facing potential prosecution for the murder of Irish civilians.

The bereaved have been taking to social media following the vote to share their images and pictures of lit candles.

Relatives for Justice shared a series of internet posts highlighting how the families of Brian Campbell, Com McGirr, Adrian and Roddy Carroll, Anne Magee, Seamus Morris, Majella Morris, Michael Hayes, Peter Gallagher, Martin and Sean Lavery, Margaret Gargan, Theresa Clinton, John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey and more are ‘#nevergivingup’, using the campaign’s social media hashtag.

They said: “That the British SoS was drinking champagne in celebration last night while victims from all walks of life and communities were breaking their hearts tells us the contempt with which victims and survivors are held. They know no shame or humanity.”

Families of victims of the conflict also protested outside a conference on Wednesday as Heaton-Harris met with international investors gathering in the city.

Paul McAllister, son of Patrick McAllister, who was murdered by the UDA in 1986, said the legislation was “a slap in the face for victims” and they would continue to oppose it to get justice and the truth for their loved ones.

“It’s one of these things where we will never give up and we will always be here,” he said.

Patricia Burns, whose father Thomas Burns was murdered by the British Army in North Belfast in 1972, said the legislation stamped all over her father’s memory and their family’s long fought for inquest would be cancelled by the incoming legislation.

“I’m very angry. The way that is working is that inquests, civil cases and court cases are working for victims. They’re not working for the perpetrators – but that’s why this bill is being rolled out.”

For Emmett McConomy, the passage of the legacy legislation was a “traumatic day”. His brother Stephen was killed in 1982 by a plastic bullet and his family have fought for justice ever since.

“Mum always held on to the hope that something, that someone would see sense, that someone would put a stop to this, but the fight is not over, the fight is definitely not over,” he said.

“We are entitled to justice the same as any other person in society is entitled to justice, regardless of the passage of time.

“The British government has painted a picture that they’re doing us a favour by ‘drawing a line’ under the past for us. Victims have never been the blockages to truth. The blockages to truth have always been the [Ministry of Defence] and the British Army and the British government, those are the organisations and peoples who have systematically blocked avenues to truth and justice.”

Legal experts have said there are strong legal arguments for Dublin to present in Europe if taking an inter-state case against the British government. The 26 County Attorney General Rossa Fanning is said to be preparing legal advice in regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory.

There are fears that the Tories may be attempting to use the north of Ireland as a campaign issue to bolster their support among right-wing extremists ahead of the next Westminster general election. The British Labour Party has already said it will repeal the legislation.

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane called on Dublin to confront the ‘cynical and cruel’ legislation. He said the “flawed and irredeemable” Legacy Bill “has always only been about one thing – closing the door on families ever getting truth and justice.”

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