Update - July 14: This briefing has been rescheduled from Thursday, July 14 to Friday, July 15 at 9:00 am EDT.
Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA) will host the ‘Truth and Accountability for Victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland’ public briefing.
Keating, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber, will be joined by Dr. Anna Bryson from Queen's University Belfast, Alan McBride of the Wave Trauma Center, and Mark Thompson, founding member and CEO of Relatives for Justice.
The briefing will seek to increase the understanding of the violence that occurred in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and provide a platform for notable individuals to address intergenerational trauma resulting from this violent period.
The briefing will also seek to raise awareness of recent legislation introduced by the parliament of the United Kingdom that Chairman Keating believes threatens the peace and stability established in Northern Ireland almost 25 years ago by the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The briefing, which will be open to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will be live-streamed.
The congressional briefing is being held about two months after the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, which can be read here, was introduced in UK Parliament.
According to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the new Legacy Bill will provide for the provision of a new independent body - the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) - that will conduct investigations, consistent with UK international obligations, to provide answers for those who want them, in a process supported by full state disclosure and with the power to compel witnesses.
The ICRIR will grant immunity from prosecution, based on an individual’s cooperation with the body’s inquiries, the NIO says. Those who do not cooperate with the independent body will not be granted immunity, and will remain liable to prosecution should sufficient evidence exist, or come to light.
The UK Government has today formally introduced the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill in Parliament.
Further information here: https://t.co/gIzm03MEZe pic.twitter.com/f7JHJUatl4— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) May 17, 2022
In the US, the Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement has written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express its "urgent and unequivocal" opposition to the UK's legacy legislation, while the American Brexit Committee has also written to Blinken saying that the purpose of the Legacy bill "is to cover-up a legacy of lawless collusion between British security services and loyalist terrorists."
The congressional briefing also comes in the wake of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resignation, which was announced after a wave of resignations within his cabinet. Among the resignations was Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, who is being replaced by Shailesh Vara.
Congressman Keating, who is hosting Thursday's briefing, said he hoped that Johnson's resignation will "bring stronger ties with the EU - and particularly in dealing with the Northern Ireland Protocol."
While I hope that brings stronger ties with the EU - and particularly in dealing with the Northern Ireland Protocol - I’m confident that the unity surrounding supporting Ukraine will be unaltered.— Congressman Bill Keating (@USRepKeating) July 7, 2022
The news of the congressional briefing has been welcomed by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). Martin Galvin, the AOH's Freedom for all Ireland Chair, said that the Congressional briefing “should be another signal to the British government that the issue of legacy justice is not going away.”