FAMILIES of victims of the conflict protested outside the Waterfront Hall today against the British government's controversial Legacy Bill as international investors gathered in the city.
Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris was inside the Waterfront Hall as protestors gathered outside and guests took their seats for the Northern Ireland Investment Summit.
Around 200 investors from across the world including the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific are attending the event but the fall-out from the British government's implementation of the contentious legislation hung over the conference as families made their voices heard outside.
Paul McAllister, son of Patrick McAllister, who was murdered 37 years ago in August 1986 by the UFF/UDA at his home on Rodney Drive off the Falls, said the legislation was "a slap in the face for victims" and they would continue to oppose it to get justice and the truth for their loved ones.
"It's very important that all the families in Northern Ireland who have lost people throughout the Troubles and every political party in the North and in the South are against this," he said.
"It's just a slap in the face. It's one of these things where we will never give up and we will always be here.
"My son is here with me today, he was born after my father was murdered on the anniversary of my father's death and he's here today. He didn't know his grandfather but if anything ever happens to me he'll be here in my place and this is how it will go for many families.
"It was my father's 37th anniversary last month and to be honest it's really made me depressed. It's really upset me to think that my father's killing means nothing. That's how I feel and I feel it's sad, sick and wrong. The British government just think they can do what they want and we have to stand up to them."
Patricia Burns, whose father Thomas Burns was murdered by the British Army in the Bone area of North Belfast in July 1972 while leaving a social club, said the legislation stamped all over her father's memory and their family's long fought for inquest would be cancelled by the incoming legislation.
"I'm very angry about it. We've spent years campaigning about it and to get our inquest. We got word last year that we were finally being allowed an inquest, as there never was an investigation into any murders back at the time.
"Legally we have this inquest but now this bill will wipe it out. I'm very angry. The way that is working is that inquests, civil cases and court cases are working for victims. They're not working for the perpetrators – but that's why this bill is being rolled out.
"My father was Thomas Burns, he was 32-years-old and he was shot dead leaving the Glen Park Bar in the Bone area in 1972. He was married with four children and we were aged between three and eleven. He tried to leave the bar when some shooting broke out and the army shot him.
"They told lies and said he was a gunman and we knew all along he wasn't. Nobody was fighting our corner back then and they insisted he was a gunman. It was later proven that he wasn't. There was never an apology, never a proper enquiry and no-one was ever charged or questioned as to why they killed him. They held the ambulance up and prolonged its journey to the hospital so he couldn't get medical help.
"Now they are just stamping all over his memory by telling us to forget about it and that it's time to move on. We can't move on and we will always be here."
Wednesday's protest was organised by Relatives for Justice.