A shameful betrayal of the victims of the Troubles | Letters
My sister Maxine Hambleton was murdered in the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974. Boris Johnson’s government decision to introduce a statute of limitations for atrocities related to the eerily named “The Troubles” (Report, 14 July) victims of terrorism linked to Ireland.
Once amnesty is granted to terrorists and murderers, we can forget the rule of law. Our government will have replaced it with the gun and bomb rule. History shows that when you allow murderous fanatics to kill without any repercussions, they revel in that weakness.
Terrorist killers will celebrate their escape from prosecution and see it as the ultimate justification for their vile actions. Knowing that there is no political will for justice to be done, it will only strengthen the resolve of these killers, while the families of the victims will know that their government does not care about their suffering.
Not every political party in Northern Ireland agrees with the proposed legislation, as do victim support groups in the UK and Ireland, but our political masters know the best, and we are supposed to touch our hair and thank it for representing the interests of victims without sympathy.
The Conservative Party claims to be the party of law and order. If Conservative MPs allow this proposal to pass, this claim should be rejected forever. From now on, it should only be seen as the party that puts terrorists before victims. This will be the party that allowed the murderers to walk away from their violent crimes without fear of being brought to justice.
I now finally understand why members of government are against kneeling in support of Black Lives Matter. It’s not just black lives, in their eyes, no matter what life.
Simon Jenkins (Only by forgiving – and forgetting – can Ireland come out of its past, July 17) I hope agrees that forgiveness is to be offered or not to the surviving victims. It is an individual act dependent on a range of personal factors and circumstances, with no greater morality attached to one choice than the other.
Another Simon – Wiesenthal – wrote The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, telling the autobiographical story of a Jewish slave / medic asked in an SS hospital for the forgiveness of a dying soldier. The book questions 44 people known for their wisdom and experiences: will you forgive in such circumstances? The result is nothing like a consensus.
No one knew better than Wiesenthal that the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity rarely results in a just and satisfactory outcome for the victims. But this possibility should not be closed by a limitation period. For a good number of people across the country, whether in Belfast or Birmingham, when a blatant crime is alleged, to be heard as an individual or as a family in court regardless of the outcome .
A truth and reconciliation commission makes no sense if it does not have the genuine support of the majority of communities in Northern Ireland and others. Yes, most evidence for the court can get cold over time. But the denial of access to individual justice as most of us understand it only adds to the trauma, which in some families will last for generations. As for forgetting, as the man said, the past has not even passed.
Your editorial (The troubles legacy row: no solution at all, July 15) argues that by uniting Northern Ireland parties against a statute of limitations proposal, the government has unveiled a new twist on a proven principle. This should come as no surprise. Whether on Northern Ireland, voter identification plans or border control in times of pandemic, the Prime Minister has always been the source of political change. We truly live in the era of the Johnson variant.