Victims slam proposed statute of limitations on Troubles cases as ‘betrayal’

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ereaved relatives who lost loved ones in Northern Ireland’s Troubles are united against a proposed statute of limitations on legacy prosecutions.

The victim sector, which includes a wide range of views on how to deal with the past, came together with one voice to slam Brandon Lewis’ proposals as a “betrayal”.

Families of the 10 killed by soldiers in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in 1971 watched Mr Lewis’ statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

A fresh inquest into the deaths of the woman and nine men earlier this year found they were “entirely innocent”.

Joseph Corr, one of 10 people killed by soldiers in Ballymurphy in 1971 (Ciaran Cahill/PA) / PA Media

Eileen McKeown, daughter of Joseph Corr, said they see the proposed statute of limitations on Troubles prosecutions as the British Government’s “cynical attempt to bring an amnesty and a plan to bury its war crimes”.

She said the proposals “will not be tolerated and will be legally challenged”.

“The Ballymurphy Massacre inquest findings show how the law should work independently,” she said.

“All victims need to know the truth, they need to know what happened to their loved ones.

“We all bleed the same blood so everybody needs truth and justice and then maybe they can start living their lives.

“We spent 50 years trying to prove that our loved ones were innocent, there are loads of families out there like us and they all need to know the same thing.”

Michael O’Hare, whose 12-year-old sister Majella was shot by a soldier in 1976, said the legacy proposals set out by Brandon Lewis were an “utter and unacceptable betrayal”.

Mr O’Hare, supported by Amnesty, is calling for an independent investigation into the killing.

He said: “The UK Government is inflicting great pain on my family and other victims denied justice.

“Our Majella had her life cruelly robbed, at the tender age of 12, by bullets from a soldier’s machine gun.

Majella O’Hare, who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh in 1976 (PA) / PA Media

“She was an innocent child with her whole life ahead of her.

“The Ministry of Defence apologised to my family, but a proper investigation has never happened.

“The UK Government is now trying to deny us meaningful truth and justice forever.

“I will never stop fighting for Majella, my sister deserves justice.

“I hope these proposals are firmly rejected.

“I call on all parties involved to end the perpetual cycle of victims being failed.”

Meanwhile Ulster Human Rights Watch slammed the legacy proposals as a “betrayal to victims and former police and military veterans”.

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