AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL and Troubles victims have welcomed the Irish government’s restatement of its opposition to the UK’s controversial Troubles Bill, after Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin told the delegation that all cards were on the table when it came to the possibility of the Irish government taking the UK government to court if the much-contested bill becomes law.
On 6 April, Amnesty and family members of men and women unlawfully killed by the security forces and republican and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles urged the Irish government to commit to taking the UK to the European Court of Human Rights if the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill (‘Troubles Bill’) enters into law.
The widely-opposed bill would allow perpetrators to get away with murder, torture and other serious crimes committed during the conflict, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Gráinne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, said: “We welcome the meeting with the Tánaiste today. We have called for the Irish government to put a public marker down to signal to the UK government that if they force the bill through and pass it into law, the Irish government will take an inter-state case. The voices of Troubles victims must be heard in Dublin; they’re being ignored in London.
“We understand all cards, including an interstate case, are on the table and being considered and that the Tánaiste is continuing to engage with the Prime Minister on a way forward to deal with the past. Twenty-five years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the UK government is recklessly violating the agreement and disturbing a delicate peace by pushing through a Troubles Bill which nobody wants.This anniversary is an important opportunity for the UK to recommit to the Good Friday Agreement and deliver on the rights commitments at its core.”
Eugene Reavey, whose brothers were killed in 1976 by the Glenanne Gang, fears that the Troubles Bill will deny justice to his family: “Our family – like so many others – have waited a long time for justice. If this bill goes through, none of us will get it. We need the Irish government to stand foursquare behind us, and all victims here. We need the Irish government to hold the UK to account.”
The Troubles Bill has already been overwhelmingly rejected by victims and victims’ rights groups, Amnesty and other human rights organisations, Northern Ireland political parties and the Irish government, as well as prompting serious concern from the US Congress, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteurs, the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.
* Read the United Nations statement on the Bill here.
* Source: Amnesty International