It has taken less than a fortnight for Brandon Lewis’s ‘Statute of Limitations’ or what is more commonly known as an amnesty, to fall apart. When all parties in the North along with all victims groups rally against the idea of letting soldiers and paramilitaries off the hook for the killing of innocent people, you can bet something is up. No one in this country is under the illusion that this amnesty is anything other than an attempt to let soldiers away with murders carried out at the behest of state forces and shadowy organisations attached to the British Government.
Brandon Lewis has claimed the ‘Statute of Limitations’ was to be put in place to “draw a line under the past” and “to allow Northern Ireland to move forward” dealing more with truth than with justice. However, Mr. Lewis has clearly failed to run this past the people who would be delivering this ‘truth’ as so far, to date Johnny Adair, once leader of C’ Company UDA on the Shankill Road and was once one of the most powerful men within Loyalism and Garfield Beattie of the notorious Glenanne Gang have said they will not speak to any truth commission. So what now? Is that it? Is this what Brandon Lewis’s ‘Statute of Limitations’ amounts to? Is this his big plan to move ‘Northern Ireland’ forward? Asking someone to tell the truth about what they know of the circumstances surrounding the death of someone’s loved one with the freedom to say ‘I’m not going to talk about it’. If that’s the case, what is the point of a truth commission?
Garfield Beattie was involved with a gang of terrorists who killed some 120 innocent people. People who were almost all Catholic with no connections to any Republican organisation and was at times directed in his terrorism by British intelligence. Not only that, but his fellow gang members were serving members of the police force and the local militia, the UDR. This is the same gang who admitted they were going to shoot up a Catholic Primary school to provoke a reaction from the IRA to start an all-out war. The Miami Showband Massacre, showed just how ruthless the gang were when they stopped the band on the A1 at Buskhill in Co. Down portraying themselves as the British army, ordered the band out of the van and planted a bomb in their vehicle which exploded prematurely. According to former Intelligence Corps agent Captain Fred Holroyd, the killings were organised and led by British intelligence officer Robert Nairac.
Can Beattie be compelled to divulge the truth in a court, even if he cannot be cross- examined or if he is not actually being tried in court? Something tells me he can’t and he won’t. I wouldn’t like to think these people would be offered money to bring to light the truth about deaths they were involved in or have information on. The collusion between British security agencies, British soldiers and Loyalist paramilitaries is common knowledge now and with every investigation into murders in this country it is almost the first thing investigators look for and inevitably it is found lurking in the shadows of the deaths of innocent people. More often than not those innocent people are Catholic.
Be under no illusion, the reason this amnesty is being attempted is because families are getting more and more truth out of the British Government thanks to solicitors like Niall Murphy and Madden and Finucane, which is leading to the British Government being forced to issue apologies decades after atrocities took place because their soldiers operated outside the law. Sooner or later, there will be a scrap of information dug up by an investigation which will officially connect an order from Downing Street to the death of an innocent person in the North. Eventually the trail of blood will lead to Downing Street and the British Government can’t be having that now…can they?