On Wednesday July 14, Boris Johnson’s government angered Northern Ireland, confirming its intention to introduce a bill in the fall to prescribe crimes committed during the period of the Civil War in Northern Ireland , until the peace accords of 1998. For almost forty years, the “Troubles” opposed Catholics and nationalists in favor of a unification of the island of Ireland, Protestants, loyalists and faithful to the United Kingdom, as well as the British army, supposed to preserve the order, but party to the conflict. About 3,500 people died and more than 45,000 were injured. The proposal was immediately denounced by the main political parties in the province, by victims’ associations and by the Irish government.
“The current system for dealing with the legacy of the ‘Troubles’ is not working. Criminal investigations are less and less likely to succeed. (…) Doing nothing is not an option, [alors] that the Police in Northern Ireland are currently investigating 1,200 cases and that it would take at least 20 years to resolve them ”, explained, in the House of Commons, Brandon Lewis, the minister responsible for Northern Ireland. The law should “Put an end to the cycle of investigations and prosecutions, sources of divisions”, by establishing “An amnesty applying equally to all incidents related to the ‘Troubles'”, specifies a government document. The latter also promises a “Major initiative” for “Establish an oral history” “Troubles” and “An independent commission” to help families obtain information on the circumstances of the disappearance of their loved ones.
“I want Northern Ireland to move forward, but it cannot be done at the expense of justice”, insisted Jeffrey Donaldson, boss of DUP, the main Unionist party in Northern Ireland. “The British proposals cannot be the basis of a solution to overcome the past and will not be supported by the parties of Northern Ireland”, underlined Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ireland.
“We reject the principle of amnesty. Families are not asking for jail for the perpetrators, but they want the facts that led to the death or injury of their loved ones to be established. With the amnesty, the perpetrators will not even be questioned and their version of history will not be contested ”, regrets Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice, one of the main associations helping families of victims. “If this law is passed, it will immediately be taken to court”, warns Mr. Ritchie.
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