|First Published In|
Al Mayadeen English.
November 29, 2021, on a cold wet winter night in Belfast, victims and survivors of troubles related atrocities met at Belfast Queen's University Peter Froggatt Centre, to hold a public meeting entitled ‘No To Amnesty’.
|Kate Nash told us how her brother William 19, had been murdered |
on the 30th of January 1972 when he attended a civil rights march in Derry.
Speaker after speaker condemned the proposal of Boris Johnson and the conservative government to introduce amnesty type legislation, which would prevent any future prosecutions, judicial inquests, or civil actions taken against those who were involved in the violence in N. Ireland to include murder, bombings, and disputed British army killings prior to the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Brandon Lewis, current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Boris Johnson, and the Conservative government have a majority of 80 MP’s in the House of Commons, and it is envisioned they will try in late 2021 - early 2022 to bring legislation before Parliament to basically allow what one of the panelists described as an ‘Amnesty for murder’.
Those in power at Westminster are advising the British public, the people of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the globe, that the only way to deal with the legacy issues created from the political violence which erupted in Northern Ireland in 1969 and mostly came to an end in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, is to have ‘no prosecutions’, in the words of Boris Johnson to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and for the people here to ‘move on’.
Raymond McCord senior whose son Raymond McCord junior was murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force, had been a member of the Royal British Air Force before he was brutally beaten to death during a savage attack, having been lured to his death to a disused quarry in Ballyduff, Netwonwabbey just outside Belfast, in November 1997. It is believed his murder may have been ordered by a senior commander in the UVF who, at that time, was a paid police informer.
Mr. McCord addressed the audience and asserted his claim that it is not an amnesty for the guilty that is required by the people of the north of Ireland, but full judicial investigative prosecutions. Where evidence is gathered sufficient for prosecution, the guilty including the members of the Ulster Volunteer Force who murdered his son should be brought before the civil courts to handle the case and issue the verdict accordingly.
Many of the speakers asserted that the British government had been involved in a bloody war in the North of Ireland using human assets, informers, highly placed and highly paid individuals within paramilitary organizations to carry out acts of murder and bombing; protecting these perpetrators in order to keep secret the state's involvement. A pattern of behavior that continues to this day.
The daughter of a Roman Catholic police officer, SGT Joseph Campbell a father of eight who was murdered while on duty at his police station in Cushendall on the County Antrim coastline in 1977, claims that those involved in her father's murder were members of the Glenanne Gang, a group of men - some in the Ulster Defence Regiment (British Army), some in the service of the police (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and others, murdered her father with collusion from senior police officers who knew him personally and were involved in the instigation and orchestration of his assassination.
The Glenanne gang is believed to be responsible for up to 120 murders, nearly all of whom were Catholic Irish Nationalists.
The Omagh bomb carried out by Republicans produced the biggest single loss of life during the violent conflict in the north of Ireland. It is claimed that the deaths could have been prevented as the security forces had prior knowledge of the intended paramilitary operations, one of the relatives who lost his son informed the audience.
Eugene McGreevey spoke of how his three brothers were brutally murdered at home by UVF assassins. John Martin 24, Brian 22, and Anthony 17 were helpless after the assailants sledgehammered their way into the family home.
A little later as Eugene, his mother, and others were having their sons and murdered brothers removed from the family home, the injured were taken to the hospital while dead victims were being taken to the morgue; and there, they were stopped by a British army checkpoint. Eugene's mother who had just lost her three sons was assaulted and abused by the British Army soldiers present, and the blood-soaked clothes that were in the bags were emptied onto the road and danced upon by the Soldiers.
We heard witness testimony from those who could recall the White Rock/ Ballymurphy massacre in Belfast when British Army paratroopers murdered 11 innocent people including a Roman Catholic priest, all unarmed people, during the introduction of internment without trial on the 9th of August 1971.
The son of a murdered victim of the Sean Graham bookmakers Massacre on the Ormeau Road in Belfast 5 February 1992, recalled how 5 men died and 9 were injured, all Catholics, when loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Defence Association went into the bookmakers with the intention of murdering everyone there.
A son of one of those murdered was refused entry to the bookmakers along with family, friends, relatives, and neighbors of those who had been shot. British soldiers in civilian clothes prevented their access while other British soldiers also in civilian clothes removed the spent bullet casings thereby perverting the course of justice and possibly preventing the identification of those involved in the murders.
Kate Nash told us how her brother William 19, had been murdered on the 30th of January 1972 when he attended a civil rights march in Derry calling for an end to internment without trial.13 people were murdered that day and another victim would succumb to his wounds several months later. All 14 were shot and murdered by the British parachute regiment under the command of Colonel Mike Jackson.
Those victims were claimed by the British government, and the British press to be armed terrorists involved in military actions against the Soldiers of the parachute regiment. After several judicial Inquiries, it was finally admitted by the British government that none of the people murdered on Bloody Sunday were involved in any acts of violence against the state or the British soldiers involved, indeed they were innocent unarmed civil rights protesters who were murdered by the British parachute regiment the same regiment responsible for the Whiterock/Balymurphy massacre the previous August.
Colonel Mike Jackson the officer in command on that day, later became the general officer commanding British Land forces.
Speaker after speaker condemned and accused the British government of a cover-up of war crimes. A cover-up of state collusion with paramilitary murderers and they went on to claim the amnesty is not designed to help people ‘move on’ but is, in fact, an attempt to bury the past along with the dead and to forever keep secret the strength and depth of state involvement in some of the 3600 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries that occurred in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998.
All those panelists in unison demanded ‘No Amnesty’ and vowed to continue the fight for prosecutions and justice in the names of the dead, the injured, the bereaved families, their friends, and the community.