Six members of Congress have joined in a bipartisan letter to Deputy British Ambassador Michael Tatum citing concerns about state force amnesty in legacy killings and Britain's failure to implement agreed legacy mechanisms
The bipartisan initiative, joined by Representatives Peter King, Eliot Engel, Chris Smith, Brian Fitzpatrick, Nita Lowey, and Brendan Boyle, comes as Boris Johnson was named British prime minister last week. The initiative also follows a recent Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH) sponsored U.S. tour by Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice and Edge Hill University Professor Mark McGovern, author of "Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland."
The members of Congress cited growing concern about a proposed Statute of Limitations amnesty for British military and constabulary, as well as Britain's failure to implement agreed legacy mechanisms while evidence mounts of crown collusion in killings, particularly in Tyrone and South Derry.
The British government repeatedly claimed that it was opposed to amnesty for killings by the British military, including in a formal letter by then-Ambassador Kim Darroch to Members of Congress on May 18, 2018.
An amnesty in the form of a statute of limitations was overwhelmingly opposed by respondents to a British government consultation on legacy, announced earlier this month. However, this policy was apparently reversed by Johnson in his campaign for the Conservative Party leadership.
Legacy mechanisms were agreed and published by the British government as part of the Stormont House Agreement of 2014. These mechanisms, which include a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) into Troubles killings, have never been implemented. Many nationalists believe that the HIU would uncover crown force collusion or complicity in killings.
AOH Freedom for All-Ireland Chair Martin Galvin noted, "Justice and truth for relatives of victims killed by British troopers, or where British military or constabulary acted in complicity with loyalist criminals, continues to be denied.
"The AOH, America's oldest and largest Irish-American organization continually hears from victims' relatives, who tell us that American pressure, particularly from members of Congress is vital to their fight for truth.
"AOH members earlier this year attended the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest, met with relatives of victims in Tyrone and hosted the book launch tour by Mark McGovern, accompanied by Mark Thompson.
"These families are now concerned that the British regime, headed by Boris Johnson, would not hesitate to sacrifice Irish legacy justice for Westminster political gains. Replacing Karen Bradley who supported the legacy mechanisms and opposed a one-sided trooper amnesty was the first step.
"We welcome this important initiative by Congressional representatives who have played a leading role on Irish issues. We will continue to work with Congress together with other Irish American organizations such as the Irish American Unity Conference, in the fight for Irish legacy justice.”