Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the leader of the Opposition, Senator Boyhan, for raising the matter of the victims of the Troubles and their search for justice. I also thank Senator Currie for going to Belfast that day. It was truly a historic event given that it was the first time in the history of this island that all of the major political parties signed one document. It was a truly historic event in that respect but it was sad that it related to a cause that should not have to be fought for. The fact that Congressmen Boyle and Fitzpatrick, along with other members of the US Congress, signed a letter to the British Prime Minister asking the British Government not to go ahead with this legislation, that would deny justice and truth to families, shows the level of international outrage regarding this proposal. It should be borne in mind that a UK university has analysed this legislation and 300 other amnesties given since the 1990s and has described it as "Pinochet plus". It has said that it is a broader and more comprehensive amnesty than was given to the Chilean dictator, General Pinochet, and his troops who committed atrocities during his reign of terror in Chile. I do not believe the UK Government wants to be associated with that type of historic record. As Senator Boyhan has said, the families deserve truth and justice. I thank all Members for participating in that event in Belfast on that day. We were delighted to be invited by Raymond McCord, who was leading the effort to prevent this legislation being enacted. I thank the Minister of State for coming in and outlining the Government's response.