July 19, 2021….

In announcing that it will institute a statute of limitations for all criminal offenses committed during the so-called Troubles, the United Kingdom stands in lockstep with other notorious outlaw regimes that have little respect for law or human rights.  This action, primarily to protect British Army killers who were part of the UK’s campaign of suppression in the North of Ireland, typifies Britain’s complete disdain for the innocent victims of its own brutal rule as well as for the norms of the international legal order. 

By flouting its mutual obligations under the 2014 Stormont House Agreement (“SHA”), the UK also is figuratively poking its finger in the eye of the Irish Government and brazenly daring them to do anything about it.

The July 14 statement by the UK’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, arrogantly patronizes the people of the North by contending that the new process will pave the way for the delivery of an information recovery process more acceptable to the victims than the current legacy mechanisms enshrined in the SHA. To the contrary, this heinous proposal by the British Government has evoked universal opposition from nationalists, unionists, republicans, loyalists, neutral parties, victim’s groups, the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Irish government.  

Nuala O’Loan, the former police ombudsman for the Six Counties, called the plan a “terrible, terrible betrayal of the victims and their families” and John Teggart, spokesman for the Ballymurphy Families, succinctly labeled it “a plan to bury [Britain’s] war crimes.”

The British scheme is illegal and unacceptable for a number of reasons, chief among which is that it violates a legally binding international agreement, the SHA, between the UK and Ireland.  In addition, Secretary Lewis did not bother to consult with the Irish Government, much less any of the thousands of people who are affected, before announcing the plan.  Further, there can be no faith whatsoever that Britain will follow through on its watered-down truth recovery proposal because it is now well established that the UK can never be trusted to live up to its promises regarding Ireland (or the EU).

It is past time for Ireland, the United States, the European Union, and the entire international community to stop hoping or pretending that Great Britain will negotiate honestly and behave honorably.  Time and again, this rogue nation has broken the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement, the 2020 New Decade, New Approach Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.  The Irish Government must stand up and demand that Britain reverse this action, and the US Congress and Administration should state clearly that there will be no US-UK Trade agreement if this execrable scheme is enacted.

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