John Finucane (rear second from left) at the protest.

Calls to Halt Passage of Legacy Bill

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has called on the British government to stop the passage of its Legacy Bill which, he said, is designed to give an amnesty to former British soldiers.

Last week, families of victims of British state violence during the Troubles demonstrated outside the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) headquarters in Belfast city centre on the same day as the controversial bill was debated in the House of Lords in London.

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“The flawed Legacy Bill will go to the British House of Lords today, ignoring opposition from victims and families, human rights experts, churches, the UN and all the political parties on this island,” said the North Belfast MP, whose father Pat was a victim of British state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

“Just last week, a letter from a cross-party group of U.S. politicians (See Page 6) told British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the bill will deny truth and justice to thousands of victims and families. This cruel and callous legislation is designed to shut down efforts to get justice through the courts, and to let British state forces who killed Irish citizens off the hook.

“I am reiterating Sinn Féin’s call for an urgent summit involving the British and Irish governments and political parties on the issue of legacy.” 

Mr. Finucane said that if the British government is serious about upholding victims’ and families’ legal right to truth and justice, that “they will stop the passage of the Legacy Bill to allow for dialogue.

“The legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in 2014 demonstrated that working together is the best way to achieve an agreed way forward, not self-serving solo runs,” he added.

Daniel Holder, Committee on the Administration for Justice (CAJ) deputy director, said: “Despite the NIO claims, these amendments do not even attempt to address the concerns raised by victims, or the international community, some are just window dressing and others would actually make the bill worse.”

The British government bill has been criticized by every political party in Ireland.

Ryan Murphy from the Time For Truth campaign, which organized the protest, said: “We the families take comfort in the fact that we do not stand alone. The criticisms of this bill are also shared by the Irish government, the churches, the Victims’ Commissioner, the Human Right Commissioners as well as NGOs.”

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