United States Senators, led by Menendez and Collins introduced a Resolution, supporting “full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements including the Stormont House Agreement”. They called for “action to resolve the injustices of past violence”, including state-sponsored violence. These words reflect growing international attention to legacy issues, which justice campaigners have inspired.
The Good Friday Agreement promised to remember the conflict’s “legacy of suffering” by opening a new framework for legacy justice. For hundreds of families who saw loved ones murdered by British crown forces, or loyalist agents, their legacy of suffering is intensified by thoughts that the British state whitewashed the murder of their loved ones. The GFA meant new hope for truth and justice.
Families then fought British intransigence with justice campaigns, inquests, European Court decisions and negotiations. Finally the British and Irish governments entered the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014.They pledged 4 new legacy bodies including, crucially, a Historical Investigations Unit, to investigate all controversial conflict killings, even those by British forces or collusion killings.
Six years later the British hint at a decommissioned version of Stormont House, missing its key component of a genuine Historical Investigations Unit. This hollowed out version could be used to bury truth.
The week before the Senate Resolution was introduced, Connla Young provided a compelling example, tracking one blood-soaked rifle used to murder a dozen nationalists across East Tyrone and South Derry. (The blood-soaked journey of R18837. How powerful gun smuggled into north by loyalists has been linked to up 12 murders-March 8th).
Among its victims, was American citizen and longtime Bronx resident, Liam Ryan. Along with customer Michael Devlin, Liam was shot down at the doorway of the Battery Bar, which he returned to Tyrone to purchase. Mourners at his funeral included Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich, future MP and Minister Martin McGuinness and former MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Congressman Thomas Manton wanted an American Department of State investigation to include “continuing reports of collusion between the British government and pro-British paramilitary groups”.
Connla Young points to a litany of evidence showing that “UDR members were centrally involved”. Telltale signs of UDR collusion were spotted immediately. Bernadette McAliskey said:
it would be very hard to convince people around here that it wasn’t the Ulster Defense Regiment that killed Liam Ryan and Michael Devlin.
Cardinals, Congressmen or MPs, could not make killers change weaponry, much less make the crown charge killers, or conduct serious investigations.
The murder gang deployed the same rifle to kill nine more victims, in Cappagh, Cookstown, Moy and Dungannon, before the weapon was found near where killers murdered 76 year old Roseann Mallon.
Family members of those twelve victims were among 3500 signing Relatives for Justice open letter, urging the British and Irish governments to keep the promises of the Stormont House Agreement.
Westminster may introduce a sham version of Stormont House and pretend it offers legacy justice.
The Senate Resolution indicates Britain would not fool anyone.