The WAVE Trauma Centre, the largest cross community victims and survivors support group in Northern Ireland, has said that whatever the issues raised by the recent collapse of high profile cases, it would be fundamentally wrong to grant a de facto amnesty in relation to all Troubles related killings.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, WAVE argues that dealing effectively with ‘complex and sensitive legacy issues’ will not be done by ‘perverting the criminal justice system’.
Proposals briefed to the Times newspaper in May suggested that the Government is planning to end all prosecutions for suspected offences whether carried out by veterans or by republican and loyalist paramilitaries.
The letter states that:
‘If anyone in Downing Street or the Ministry of Defence or the Northern Ireland Office seriously thinks that an amnesty of this nature can form the foundation upon which reconciliation could be built then it shows how little they understand the nature of the pain and trauma which continues to be suffered by victims and survivors and their families’.
The letter warns that ‘…this proposal if implemented will not aid reconciliation’ but will will exacerbate ‘…the anguish and bitterness that will bleed into subsequent generations’.
The proposals would also bring comfort to those who “were still prepared to maim and kill’ by sending a message that ‘…if they hold on long enough they will not have to answer for what they have done’.
The families of victims of some of the most appalling crimes during the Troubles have urged the Prime Minister to think again.
They include the family of John Molloy who was stabbed to death by a loyalist gang in 1996.
Also Margaret Valente whose husband Peter was abducted by the Provisional IRA in 1980 and held for three days before being murdered, and the family of Patsy Gillespie who was used as a human bomb by the Provisional IRA in an incident which killed Patsy and five soldiers.