Three Irish American Congressmen have responded after UK Parliament moved the contentious Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill closer to law in a vote on Wednesday, September 6.

The bill, which would end new Troubles-era investigations and inquests and would offer conditional immunity to those accused of killings, has been widely opposed in both the UK and Ireland, as well as by Irish American politicians and groups since it was introduced in May 2022.

On Wednesday, MPs in the UK House of Commons voted to reject amendments to the bill that would have altered the conditions required for a perpetrator to receive immunity for prosecution and included consent from victims’ families, prompting a response from US politicians.

Responding to Wednesday's vote, Congressman Bill Keating, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe Subcommittee, said in a statement: “Today, the House of Commons passed the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, legislation opposed by all five political parties in Northern Ireland, the government of the Republic of Ireland, and many people across the United Kingdom.

"This bill, as passed, stops any new inquests from being opened into crimes committed during the Troubles, and allows conditional amnesty for individuals accused of committing killings while denying victims and their families the justice and accountability they deserve. 

“As the Ranking Member of the Europe Subcommittee in the United States House of Representatives, I have voiced opposition to this legislation, which I believe directly threatens the stable peace established by the Good Friday Agreement and undermines processes agreed upon in the Stormont House Agreement.

"Families from all communities in Northern Ireland deserve the truth about crimes committed against their loved ones as well as justice for the violence they faced.

"It is shameful the British government has passed this legislation, failing to heed the call of so many who oppose this bill and denying its own citizens their fundamental right to truth and justice.

"I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland achieve the justice and accountability necessary to ensure long-term peace and stability in the region.”

Congressman Brendan F. Boyle, whose father is from Co Donegal, said in a statement: “It is shameful that the UK government today passed its so-called Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) bill through the House of Commons.

"Simply put, this legislation will deny justice to thousands of families, across all communities in Northern Ireland, who were victims of violence during the Troubles.

“In 2014, by way of the Stormont House Agreement, the British government promised to investigate lingering and controversial killings that took place during that period, including those committed in collusion with British state forces.

"Today, the UK government broke that promise.”


— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) September 6, 2023

In a statement issued on Twitter, Congressman Richard Neal, co-chair of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, said: "I am disappointed by the news that the Legacy Bill has passed through Westminster.

"The underlying principles of peace in the Good Friday Agreement are what have allowed us to achieve 25 years of stability on the island of Ireland.

"Everyone involved, including both governments, acted together in good faith and gave up something to reach this agreement. 25 years later, we are now faced with the Legacy Bill, legislation that represents a fundamental shift on the issue of the Troubles.

"Truth, transparency, and justice. That is what the victims of this horrific period in Ireland's history, and their families, deserve. The Legacy Bill inhibits this from coming to fruition."

This isn't the first time these Congressmen have spoken out against the proposed Legacy legislation - in 2021, the three were among the signatories of a letter to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to reverse the proposals.

Later, in August 2022, the three again signed their names to a joint letter to the Speaker of the UK House of Lords John McFall urging him and his colleagues "to consider alternative paths to provide real, tangible accountability for victims and their families and implore you to take every measure at your disposal to ensure this legislation does not preclude the delivery of justice and accountability in Northern Ireland."