A PROTEST against the British government’s controversial Legacy Bill was held on Tuesday outside the Northern Ireland Office by the Time For Truth campaign and the families of those affected by state violence.

The controversial bill was debated at committee stage in the House of Lords on Tuesday and with further amendments added has been criticised for making the bill worse than it was already deemed to be.

 

Daniel Holder, Committee on the Administration for Justice (CAJ) deputy director, said: “Despite the NIO claims, these amendments do not even attempt to address the concerns raised by victims, or the international community, some are just window dressing and others would actually make the bill worse.

“Spin from the NIO has been a feature throughout the whole process of the Legacy Bill. This is another real moment of gaslighting.”

Professor Kieran McEvoy of Queen’s University School of Law said: “These amendments are not actually designed to help victims get to the truth. If the government wished to facilitate truth recovery it would ensure that the proposed commission had the proper legal powers to conduct investigations to get to the truth.”

The bill is currently opposed by all political parties on the island and also by victims' groups who have stated it is designed to protect per perpetrators and does nothing to alleviate victims' concerns.

Speaking at the protest Ryan Murphy from the Time For Truth campaign said: “We the families take comfort in the fact that we do not stand alone. The criticisms of this bill are also shared by the Irish government, the churches, the Victims Commissioner, the Human Rights Commissioner as well as NGOs.

“These reservations are also shared with numerable organisations in the United States as well as with Council of the European Committee of Ministers and several senior US politicians. You would be mistaken that these serious human rights concerns would be addressed by any government, but no, not by this Tory government. They are intent on trampling and dismissing the rights of victims and their families.

“This is the action of a rogue state. A state which fears independent investigation, scrutiny and oversight. Rishi Sunak needs to hear that this bill is unworkable and cannot be made workable by any amendments. This bill is not human rights compliant and it does not command our confidence.”

Speaking at the protest West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said: “The British government needs to speak to victims' families. They are totally opposed to this bill or any amendments. This British government are acting like a rogue state and are just trying to defend and protect their own."

Mr Maskey added: “They do not care about victims' families and I feel it is a disgraceful bill and I do hope they listen to families right across the board. This is a very important issue for people. Families have had to deal with this for decades and generations and it is being imposed on them. It’s unfair, uncalled for and unjust in my view and the families have made that very clear.”