Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis raised investigations into Northern Ireland’s conflict, during prime minister’s questions (PMQs) on 9 May. In response, Theresa May claimed investigations into the past conflict in Northern Ireland were “patently unfair”. Because she claimed that British armed forces are the only ones under investigation.
— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) May 9, 2018
This infuriated the families of victims of British armed forces killings.
Not only was May’s statement untrue, it was hurtful to these families. A number of them are represented by the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) in Ireland.
Alan Brecknell, PFC spokesperson, told The Canary that May was “completely wrong”. Along with other justice campaigners, the PFC is running an ad in the Guardian to explain to British people the inaccuracies in her statement. They will also call for her resignation:
Amber Rudd had to step down…she [May] should step down too.
According to Brecknell, the families are “completely outraged”. He said the families see it as:
the British state doing what the British state does – it’s standing up for their own boys.
They were also surprised as statistics contradicting May’s comments have been available for over 12 months.
The facts and distortion by Loyalist collusion
The statistics issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) tell a completely different story. They show who the PSNI is investigating:
But even these statistics do not tell the full story. Journalist Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies highlights collusion between British armed forces and loyalist paramilitaries. Between 1972 and 1976 alone, collusion was responsible for 120 killings.
Statute of limitations
Conservative MPs called for a statute of limitations into past investigations. This would protect soldiers and security personnel from prosecution for wrongdoing during the conflict. This would put the UK in the same category as former dictatorships in Chile and Argentina. Although it appears now that this may not go ahead.
What the families want
The PFC wants British people to know the truth. And it is hopeful. Brecknell told The Canary the consultation launched by secretary of state Karen Bradley was “heartening”. This could include a truly independent investigation unit.
But the difficulty for families is that it will take time. And that adds to the misery of families who lost loved ones over 40 years ago.
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Featured image via Flickr/Giuseppe Milo