Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 2 December 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Engagement with Justice for the Forgotten
I welcome Mr. Brecknell and Ms Urwin for coming before the committee. I note from the outset that I am completely against any impediment to victims and families having access to truth and justice. The command paper from July is hugely offensive and represents a lockdown on the rule of law because it is not just about prosecutions but is also about all investigations, all civil cases and any access to the truth. That, to me, is hugely offensive. What does it say about our society? What does it say about the rule of law and respect for the rule of law? What does it say to people who engage in paramilitarism? What does it say about reconciliation? I feel very strongly about this. As I have said frequently in this forum, I am totally against the legacy proposals that have come from the British Government. I know there is unity on this island in relation to that. For the first time, all parties on the island - North and South - are completely opposed to these proposals. Any opportunity we have, we should send that message out loud and clear from Dublin, Belfast, London, Westminster or from wherever. The only party in favour of this is the Tory party. It is a betrayal of victims and a lockdown on their hope. Let there be no confusion or doubt about where I stand on this issue.
I would like Ms Urwin to go through her dealings in recent weeks with the Department of Foreign Affairs and about getting access to the information for Jon Boutcher. I know it is Operation Denton, as he obviously is running many investigations at present. Will Ms Urwin tell me more about that and how she has found the investigation? When I speak to other victims' groups, they have found that it has been a positive experience, as much as it can be, with Jon Boutcher. At what stage is she at now? It would be great if she could provide more information on that.