As pledged during a webinar hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Freedom for All Ireland Chair Martin Galvin, held three days after the British government’s release of a plan to end further investigations and prosecution into killings committed during the conflict in Northern Ireland, Congressman Brendan Boyle, working in conjunction with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, has sent a bipartisan letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denouncing the U.K.’s plan to renege on its commitments under the Stormont House Agreement. The letter is cosigned by an additional 34 members of the U.S. Congress representing both parties.
The U.K. plan to terminate further criminal investigations and prosecutions for acts committed during the Northern Ireland conflict was announced during the Queen’s speech, the same day a British Coroner’s inquest returned a verdict that nine civilians killed by members of the British Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy, Northern Ireland “were entirely innocent of wrongdoing.” This verdict echoed earlier findings by the Saville inquiry concerning the deaths of 13 civilians by the same Parachute Regiment during Bloody Sunday.
Currently, nearly 1,700 cases related to the conflict in Northern Ireland await investigation. In signing the Stormont House Agreement in 2014, the United Kingdom committed to dealing with the unresolved legacy of the troubles with human rights compliant investigations under the rule of law. In rare unanimity, the proposal by the Johnson government to unilaterally renounce this obligation has been denounced by all major political parties in Northern Ireland. AOH Freedom for All Ireland Chair Martin Galvin has just returned from meeting with numerous victim’s families in Northern Ireland who are appealing for help to stop this latest injustice against their murdered loved ones that Britain’s amnesty proposal represents.
The Boyle/Fitzpatrick letter states: “We are disappointed to learn that instead of taking constructive steps to fulfill these promises, British Parliament plans to introduce new legislation that would modify Stormont House Agreement legacy laws and institute a ban on legacy inquests and prosecution of former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland during the conflict. To be clear, we strongly disapprove of these proposals. We believe that they would not only prevent a pathway to justice but that they would also strip these families of their legal rights protected under European Law and the Good Friday Agreement.”
The Ancient Order of Hibernians wish to thank Congressman Boyle for keeping the pledge he made to the audience of the AOH webinar and honoring his commitment to speak out on Britain’s attempts to evade their legacy obligations; the AOH suggests Prime Minister Johnson and Northern Ireland Secretary Lewis could profit by his example of leadership and accountability. The AOH also wishes to thank Congressman Fitzpatrick for co-authoring the letter and the 34 cosigners. We are hopeful that this will put the issue of the long overdue resolution of the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland with justice at the top of the planned discussion between the President and the Prime Minister next week.
The text of the Letter from Congressmen Boyle and Fitzpatrick may be viewed here https://boyle.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/boyle-fitzpatrick-lead-bipartisan-letter-uk-prime-minister-boris-johnson
The following Congressional Representatives have signed the letter:
|Brendan Boyle (Co-Author)||PA|
|Brian Fitzpatrick (Co-Author)||PA|
|Mary Gay Scanlon||PA|
|Donald S. Beyer||VA|