We want to share a little information with you about the British Government’s Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
NORTHERN IRELAND TROUBLES (LEGACY AND RECONCILIATION) BILL
The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 17th May 2022 by the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis. The Bill covers Troubles-related incidents which occurred in Northern Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere between 1 January 1966 and 10 April 1998.
The Bill moves the current focus away from police investigations and court cases, and moves towards establishing measures which the government states will lead to information recovery and reconciliation.
The Bill will:-
- Establish a new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), which would be responsible for reviewing (not investigating) deaths and other harmful conduct forming part of the Troubles, and for publishing its findings.
- Create a conditional immunity scheme, whereby the ICRIR will have the power to grant immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences for individuals who cooperate by providing information to the ICRIR. This immunity will prevent families from pursuing justice for their loved ones who were murdered during the Troubles.
- Prevent future civil claims being brought in relation to Troubles-related offences. Civil claims which already existed on or before the day of the Bill’s introduction will continue, but all new cases will be barred from this date.
- Bring to an end inquests which have not reached an advanced stage, and prevent future requests for inquests into Troubles-related deaths;
- Cease any current criminal investigations into Troubles-related offences by PSNI or Police Ombudsman NI.
- Initiate a programme of memorialisation of the Troubles, which will include an official history project conducted by historians, and an Oral History Archive. This will provide a central place for people from all backgrounds to share their experiences of the Troubles.
It is disappointing that the government has decided to introduce this legislation unilaterally i.e. without any agreement from local politicians, and most importantly, without any agreement from victims and survivors. We understand that many victims and survivors feel upset by the introduction of this legislation as it denies their access to an independent investigation and to a criminal justice outcome. Many also feel that the proposed conditional amnesty is more about protecting perpetrators, rather than achieving truth, justice and acknowledgement for victims and survivors.
WAVE believes that the proposals fail to consider the rights of victims and survivors. We are continuing to work with families, local politicians, victims groups, and government to lobby for a way forward for all victims and survivors.
During the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the proposals, WAVE Advocacy workers will continue to support families and individuals who have been bereaved and/or injured during The Troubles to pursue outstanding legacy issues. In addition to Advocacy support, WAVE can offer health and wellbeing services, counselling, complementary therapies and an outreach service wherever you are.
We understand that the speculation surrounding the new Bill is unsettling. If you have any questions about the new proposals and how they will impact upon your case, please contact:
Advocacy Support Workers
Naomi Crawford (Belfast)
Wendy Stewart (Omagh)