You said yesterday Dr Haass “thought the scale and the intensity of the reaction was instructive”. What happened?
He was confronted by angry Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed by British paratroopers soldiers during the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.
She urged him to reject any notion of an amnesty because the main beneficiaries of any amnesty would be those who perpetrated State killings.
“How can there be an amnesty for murder?” she asked.
“you get treated this way for almost 42 years by the justice system. There was no police inquiry back then as such, and then they drag you along all those years, all that campaigning, and then at the end of all that they are going to tell us, ‘Let’s draw a line under it all‘.
“What are they trying to do, draw a line under victims, draw a line under my brother? We are not going to let that happen,” she said.
said victims were “entitled to justice irrespective of the lapse of time“.
“This would amount to a blanket amnesty and the SDLP do not believe that this would be acceptable.”The international view, also held by the United Nations is that general amnesty is not the correct way of proceeding in a post-conflict situation.”
What did the DUP say?
Peter Robinson was resentful.
“The Attorney did not make either the Deputy First Minister or myself aware of his comments. The first knowledge of what he had said came to us from the media,”
now Lord (Paranoia) Bannside, suggested the Attorney General’s call for a de facto amnesty for Troubles killers might be a “convenient smokescreen”.
“Such an unsought ostentatious outburst of opinion, about which no one claims to have known the slightest thing, and the entire furore it has caused, is perhaps a convenient smokescreen for what really is in the pipeline with the Haass process.”
He’s quite right. The idea that the Attorney-General could take this into his head without consulting the First and Deputy First Ministers is stretching credulity to breaking-point. His proposals have to be linked to the Haas talks. Everybody knows that the big issue is how we cope with the past.
Well, Dr Haass did hold discussions with Attorney General John Larkin on the 22nd November, two days after he released his proposals.
Mr Robinson saw “no merit” in Mr Larkin’s suggestions. He said he was completely opposed to the proposals.
“In other societies they don’t say ‘we’re not going to go after murderers anymore because the years have passed by“
” would strongly object to the notion of an amnesty, we’re very clear about that.”
TUV leader Jim Allister
was “appalled and angered”.
“Mr Larkin is not advocating amnesty for everyone, only for ‘trouble-related’ crimes; thereby endorsing the terrorist propaganda,” he said.
asked the prime minister about the “very worrying statement“.
“I can reassure [you] that the government have no plans to legislate for an amnesty for crimes that were committed during the Troubles.”
Now!! What about in the future?
Chair of Parliament’s joint human rights committee
described Larkin’s remarks as “at best unhelpful and at worst offensive”.
”They seem to have been made without recognition of either the natural rights of victims for justice or the international framework in which the UK and the Northern Ireland Governments have to operate”.
“The European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties bind the UK and its devolved governments to certain rights and duties. Accepting John Larkin’s proposals would go directly against these.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
“I think this (Mr Larkin’s proposal) would be in contravention of human rights. People have internationally a right to know. They have a right to find out and where (members of) the state were involved, there must be an investigation. Clearly this is a matter of international human rights… and if the hand of justice points incontrovertibly following court cases to individuals then justice has to take its course.”
Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International agreed the proposal was a blanket amnesty.
“It would be an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice. Such a move would fly in the face of international human rights standards and perpetuate impunity.Victims are too often already being let down by flawed investigations into past human rights abuses and violations. Today’s proposals from the Attorney General would be a further betrayal for many victims in Northern Ireland.“
Strangely enough our lovely SOS
has already said “The Government does not believe that selecting a further series of cases for public inquiries is the best way to deal with the past in Northern Ireland.”
Another dissonant opinion is expressed by Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown,
“I think what John Larkin has done for us is actually raised the question – how can we get the best possible deal in the very imperfect circumstances that we have, where many people will never tell the truth about the past, because of embarrassment, because of their own inability to cope with what they’ve done themselves.”
He said for Mr Larkin to put his proposal forward during the Haass talks was “very laudable“.
Sir Desmond Rea, who chaired the first Policing Board in 2001,agreed.
He advocated the idea of an amnesty a number of years ago.
“Under the Belfast Agreement, the slate should be wiped clean. Our society and policing should look to the future.The release of prisoners under the Belfast Agreement should be extended, we argue, to an amnesty for all. There should be no more inquiries.Our concern as a society should be for the victims at their point of need“.
What are the benefits of this amnesty that isn’t an amnesty?
Moving on from the past, Political stability. Rational use of financial and other resources.The greater good of NI society
Who is set to gain most?
Loyalists and republicans and of course, the British state. It is already refusing to carry out any more inquiries, therefore supporting a de facto amnesty.The Catholic Church seems to agree, as did the Eames-Bradley Report. Bets on the rest will be finessed
Who is set to lose most?
Victims and survivors. They will be left without answers and wrongs will go without redress. They may be offered a Truth Commission but who knows how much “truth” that will uncover.