Victims’ images projected on Parliament as Government urged to scrap legacy Bill

Images of victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles have been projected onto the Houses of Parliament ahead of the expected passing of the Government’s controversial legacy Bill.

Amnesty International and some victims have made a late plea for the Government to scrap the legislation which includes a form of limited immunity for some perpetrators of crimes committed during the conflict.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is set to return to the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation would also prevent future civil cases and inquests into Troubles offences.

All of the main political parties in Northern Ireland, the Irish Government and victims’ groups are opposed to the Bill.

At the weekend, Amnesty projected the images of some victims who have still to receive justice.

The image of the Reavey brothers projected onto Parliament (Amnesty International/PA)
The image of the Reavey brothers projected onto Parliament (Amnesty International/PA)

These include Majella O’Hare, who was shot dead by a British soldier in County Armagh when she was 12 years old; Tom Oliver, a 43-year-old farmer who was murdered by the IRA; and the three Reavey brothers – aged between 17 and 24 – who were killed by the Loyalist Glenanne Gang.

Majella’s brother Michael O’Hare said: “I want Parliament and everyone to see my sister and pay attention to the many people being denied truth and justice.

“Lasting peace and reconciliation can only come when victims are prioritised and there is an agreed way forward.

“Majella’s life mattered and accountability for her killing and the many other crimes committed during the conflict also matters.

“Shame on the Government ignoring victims and the many others who reject this Bill.

“This is a final call to them: do not let us down – drop the Troubles Bill.”

Northern Ireland Troubles legacy
Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International (Brian Lawless/PA)

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland deputy director, said: “This is a hugely significant week for the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict and victims’ rights as the UK Government recklessly pursues a Bill that only it supports.

“We are on the cusp of seeing universally opposed legislation passed which not only betrays victims but also provides a blueprint for human rights abusers all over the world.

“The projection on Parliament shows the faces of some of the victims whose families are being bitterly let down by the Government.

“It is a timely and critical reminder that it is the victims, not perpetrators of serious crimes, who should be prioritised.”

She added: “Amnesty is making a final call to the UK Government to scrap the Bill – and if the Troubles Bill becomes law, the Irish Government must immediately challenge it by bringing an inter-state case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Meanwhile, a number of families of Troubles victims will travel to Westminster to witness the Bill pass its final stages.

The Victims Stories screening
Prominent victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord is to travel to Westminster this week (Rebecca Black/PA)

They include campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Junior was murdered by Loyalist paramilitaries in 1997.

He said: “Our cross-community victims’ group the Truth and Justice Movement will be in the public galleries of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

“Let us not forget this Bill has been rejected by victims groups, every political party in Ireland, every political party in the UK (except the Conservatives), every political party in the EU, every political party in America and also the United Nations.”

A Northern Ireland Office spokesperson said: “In order to deliver greater information, accountability and acknowledgement to victims and families affected by the Troubles, we must do things differently.

“The Government’s legislation provides a framework that will enable the Independent Commission for Reconciliation & Information Recovery (ICRIR) to deliver effective legacy mechanisms, while complying with our international obligations.

“The ICRIR, established by the Bill, has a primary objective to provide information to families, victims and survivors.

“Since the Bill’s introduction, a number of substantive UK Government amendments have been adopted to the legislation that address a number of key issues raised by stakeholders.”