NI Troubles amnesty proposals qualified as “shame” and “slap” by the families of the victims
The son of a man murdered in a random sectarian attack 45 years ago said the government’s proposal to end all prosecution for Troubles was not only a disgrace, but there was ” no incentive for anyone to provide information ”in an alternate process.
others have described it as creating a “murder hierarchy”.
Damien McNally was four months old when his father Paul (26) and another man were shot dead by two gunmen in June 1976 after leaving Sean Graham’s bookmakers on Crumlin Road in Belfast. They were shot a short distance from Mr McNally’s home in Ardoyne.
As the gunmen fled, a passing army patrol opened fire on them, but they escaped in a car which was later abandoned on Shankill Road.
No one has ever been convicted of the murder of Mr McNally, who died in hospital while the man accompanying him survived.
Her son said that while most families in their situation know that there will never be a conviction for the murder of their loved ones, having due process in place helps them “a process of recognition.”
“It’s so important that people have this rather than what’s on offer today,” said McNally, who works for the WAVE Trauma Center cross-community victims and survivors group.
“The big concern for everyone is the emphasis on information retrieval, because no one will be pressured into providing any kind of information.
“These expectations that the information will be made available either by the paramilitaries or by the state, people have serious reservations about it. These proposals are a shame,” he said.
There has been no consultation with victims and very little engagement from the secretary of state, he said. Many of our own politicians in Northern Ireland have also dropped casualties, he added.
“There is usually a reaction to these statements and not much beyond that. There has to be more beyond big ideas and thinking, nothing has been delivered for the victims here. The politicians here have to take a lot of the responsibility for this. “
Today dad himself, the loss of his father is more important than ever. “I realize the void I had in my own life and the void my mother had to face and what my father missed – not seeing us and his grandchildren growing up. He’s one of those I really struggle with now.
Paul McNally died two days after being shot. “He knew he was dying and he was panicking about what was going to happen to us.
“I still wake up at night thinking about what was going on in his head at the time because it must have been horrible and just the feeling of injustice that came with it,” he said.
“You have your good days and bad, but that’s one of the great things that I struggle with – how unfair it was and what other people are going through.
“You get to this point, not much would surprise you but I think today surprised me and a lot of people – the sheer arrogance, the carelessness, the way it’s disguised as wanting to reconcile people and it’s going to do the opposite. “
Louie Johnston, son of RUC officer David Johnston – killed by IRA yards from the town’s RUC station in Lurgan in 1997 alongside his colleague Agent John Graham – described the proposal as a “slap in the face.” in the face “.
“It’s as if the victims don’t have another cheek to turn on,” he said. Mr Johnston accused the government of having created a “murder hierarchy” in Northern Ireland and across the UK, according to which murders committed by terrorists during the unrest are seen as of lesser value.
He said the government is now effectively “the greatest catalyst for terrorism” after deciding to remove all consequences of crimes.
In a direct appeal to the Secretary of State, he asked if Brandon Lewis could imagine what it was like for Mr Johnston’s children to say goodbye to him without knowing they would never kiss him again.
“Can you imagine what it’s like to have an empty spot at every wedding, graduation, Christmas and birthday, or to have to sit down and explain to his own son why he doesn’t have his grand- dad ? You didn’t walk with the shoes the victim walked on, ”he said.
“May justice prevail,” he said. “The eyes of history are watching.”
Eileen McKeown, a daughter of Joseph Corr, who was one of 10 people killed in West Belfast in disputed shootings involving soldiers in August 1971, said the proposals “will not be tolerated and will be legally challenged” .
“The findings of the Ballymurphy massacre investigation show how the law should operate independently,” she said.
“All victims need to know the truth, they need to know what happened to their loved ones. We are all bleeding the same blood, so everyone needs truth and justice and then maybe they can start living their lives. “
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