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Boris Johnson has been branded a hypocrite for claiming he is “sickened” by the death of Sarah Everard, while attempting to introduce an amnesty for similar crimes in Northern Ireland.
This week the Prime Minister expressed his outrage as details emerged in court and Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive.
But his comments have led families of Troubles victims to question if there are different standards of justice in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.
A group representing victims’ families will travel to Westminster for the third time on October 19, to meet with political leaders in opposition to UK Government proposals to end prosecutions for Troubles era crimes.
Among that group will be Cathy McIlvenny, whose sister Lorraine McCausland was 23 when she was beaten, raped and murdered after a night out.
Raymond McCord, speaking for the families, said the Prime Minister’s comments showed that “there’s a difference between justice in Britain and justice in Northern Ireland”.
He told the PA news agency: “We are sickened by what we’ve heard the Prime Minister say in relation to the death of Sarah Everard.
“What she and her family have gone through is horrific. All of us know that pain.
“Boris Johnson has tried to tell us that by not having prosecutions, it will help us move on. Would he dare say that to the family of Sarah Everard?
“While her killer has been given a full life sentence, they’re trying to bring in an amnesty for the same crimes in Northern Ireland.
“It’s hypocrisy, it’s sickening and disgusting.
“It was a horrific murder but not more so than my sisters and brothers in Northern Ireland.
“People have to look at these facts and see that there’s a difference between justice in Britain and justice in Northern Ireland.”
In July, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced plans for a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.
The proposals, which Boris Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.
Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jr was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, has been leading a cross-community campaign to see the proposals halted.
A document calling for the proposals to be stopped has been signed by all of the major political parties in Ireland.
Mr McCord noted that this has never happened before, even for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which was opposed by the DUP.
A letter signed by 35 US congressmen has denounced the proposals, which have also been opposed by Amnesty International.
Mr McCord said Ms McIlvenny, along with all of the other victims’ families, would like to support Ms Everard’s family in any way they can.
“Every citizen in Northern Ireland is behind that family,” he said.
“It’s not the end of it for them. They’re going to have a lot of bad nights, like we have had.
“I hope that the life sentence helps, and brings some comfort to her family, in some way.
“I don’t know, because we’ve never had justice, we’ve never been in that position. Boris Johnson has taken that away from us. He wouldn’t have dared do it in England.”
Number 10 has been contacted for comment.