June 23. 2024. 2:08

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Northern Ireland victims’ families feel justice further away than ever


While the Good Friday Agreement ended decades of bloodshed and violence in Northern Ireland, it has not provided closure for the families of more than 3600 victims.

The deal stated that it was crucial to address victims’ suffering as an element of reconciliation.

According to the families of the victims of the British army, pro-British unionist militants, and nationalist militants seeking Irish unity who were fighting to keep the United Kingdom united, the patchwork of subsequent measures failed to achieve that goal.

The British government proposed legislation to amnesty former soldiers and other individuals who were involved in the conflict. Those still grieving are afraid that all hope of finding justice and truth will vanish forever.

Andrea Brown spoke out about how the peace process treated her and other loved ones who have lost their loved ones.

Brown from Moira said that it was very, very hard to live knowing that my entire life was changed by one bullet, and that the people responsible for that crime will never face justice. Brown was referring to Eric’s 1983 murder by the Irish Republican Army.

Brown sustained injuries in an IRA bomb attack that killed six soldiers five years later. She now lives in a wheelchair. She hopes that the British government will end its amnesty programmes.

Britain claims that prosecutions relating to events up to 55 years back are less likely to result in convictions. The legislation is currently being discussed by lawmakers to end the conflict.

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While there have been some cases that have fallen apart in recent years, was the first ex-british soldier to be convicted for an offense since the peace agreement. He was sentenced to a suspended sentence for the manslaughter in 1988 of a Catholic man.

Additional inquiries and court cases continue.

The United Kingdom’s plans will override an agreement from 2014 that provided for continued investigations. All political parties in Northern Ireland, the United Nations and the Council of Europe oppose the bill, as well as the Irish government, victims’ groups, and the Council of Europe.

Amnesty International Northern Ireland deputy Director Grainne Teggart stated that "it toys with what’s a very delicate settlement here." It will also create a dangerous precedent internationally.

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Alan McBride is the project manager at WAVE Trauma Centre. This largest cross-community group for people affected by the "Troubles" highlights the fact that reconciliation has been "severely lacking" over the past 25 years.

McBride discovered that the battle is so lengthy, it is being fought now by grandkids who have never met the grandparent whose passing they wish to be resurrected.

"Some people want truth. Some people want justice. Some people just want acknowledgement and financial restitution. Others want a permanent memorial. He said that we need something that allows all of these things to occur in society.

McBride’s father-in law and wife Sharon were killed in an IRA attack on a fish shop at Belfast’s Shankill Road, five years before the peace agreement was signed.

McBride recalled the scene in hell when he looked at photos of Sharon and Zoe as children, looking back at the old photographs.

He also recalls his wife’s "amazing smile" and "dazzling blue eyes" that "sing like they’re speaking to you".

Eugene Reavey still feels the pain of the loss his brothers, John Martin, Brian, and Anthony. In 1976, a loyalist gang shot all three of them in Whitecross, a small village in County Armagh.

John Martin, the eldest son, was shot 40 times. He was left "like a rag doll", according to his brother. A Northern Ireland court in 2019 ordered an independent investigation into the possible collusion between security personnel and the gang that was suspected of the murder.

"It completely changes you. After that, you don’t trust anyone," Reavey, now in his 70s, said.

Cathy McIlvenny worries that decades of campaigning could be lost if an amnesty was not introduced. Lorraine McCausland was raped and murdered in 1987 by her brother. She was last seen at a bar owned by loyalist militants.

Craig, Lorraine’s son was killed by another loyalist group 18 year later.

"I believe this is what the government wants. Families will die. My father is gone, but my daughter will continue the tradition. McIlvenny said that McIlvenny and McIlvenny feel they owe it to one another.

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