RFJ responds to NI Affairs Committee announcement on dealing with the past

Speaking this morning following an announcement that the Westminster based NI Affairs Committee is to examine the recent change in legacy proposals presented in a written ministerial statement on March 18th by the North’s SoS, Brandon Lewis MP, Relatives for Justice CEO, Mark Thompson, said:

“We’ve already had an extensive and exhaustive consultation process on dealing with the past to which approximately 20,000 responses were received. The vast majority of these submissions were from the bereaved and injured and called for the implementation of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) as envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA).

“The NIO and UK government ignored this consultation – they ignored the voices of victims from across the community. This was also a rejection of an investigative process that was independent, transparent, legally and human rights compliant.

“It was ultimately a rejection of accountability, continuing a form of impunity.

“We don’t need the NIAC to tell us that. We need immediate implementation of the HIU as agreed by the Irish and British governments.

“This Westminster Committee appears not to understand the issues as part of their examination seeks views on “re-investigations” and “vexatious claims”. Such framing also sets a context that lends to the noise and nonsense played out at Westminster where former British soldiers involved in killings, and who for the very first time ever would be asked by a HIU about the circumstances, are obscenely presented as victims. This is not ‘reinvestigation’ as proper independent investigations never occurred into killings by the British army or the RUC. There are no ‘vexatious claims’ in this jurisdiction whatsoever.

“This Committee does not hold the confidence of the many thousands of people from across our entire community bereaved and injured as a result of collusion and direct state violence.

“This Committee has traditionally ignored their voice and experiences. Down the years this Committee has rejected efforts by Relatives for Justice to give oral evidence about collusion and direct state violence.

“Rather than bringing scrutiny it will ultimately provide cover for the agenda of the British government; an agenda that subverts the rule of law and continues to protect and shield British soldiers from being held accountable.”ENDS