Belfast Telegraph

Victims' campaigners reject fresh talk of Troubles killings amnesty

By Brett Campbell

The son of one of the 12 people murdered in the Enniskillen bomb has claimed the UK Government will be "dancing on the graves of innocent victims" if it grants a general amnesty.

Samuel Gault was killed in the IRA atrocity in 1987. No one has ever been brought to justice.

His son Stephen, who was standing beside him at the town's cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday when the bomb exploded, opposes all forms of amnesty.

"I am totally against any form of it, but the reality is that terrorists have already received amnesty in the form of royal pardons and on the run letters (OTRs)," he said.

"I personally believe that if a soldier murdered someone unlawfully then they should face the full rigour of the justice system, but so should the terrorists - there has to be a level playing field."

Mr Gault, who was only 18 when his father was killed, said the move would be regarded as another betrayal.

"The British Government has failed victims over and over again," he said.

"Betrayal is nothing new, but any amnesty, even if it comes about as a result of a statute of limitations, would be the same as dancing on the graves of innocent victims."

Mr Gault believes the majority of victims who he has campaigned for share his opinion.

His comments follow speculation that the Government is considering a de facto amnesty for all of those involved in Troubles-related killings.

Speaking on BBC NI's The View on Thursday night, Denis Bradley - one of the authors of a 2009 report on dealing with legacy cases - said he believed a statute of limitations could be agreed in Westminster despite the fact that it might be seen as a breach of international law.

"The British Government will probably face that down," he said.

"The political parties here will jump up and down, but I think behind the scenes they will be very relieved, and I think that will go for particularly Sinn Fein and the DUP."

Mr Bradley acknowledged that victims would be left feeling "betrayed" over the denial of justice.

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer slammed the speculation, and argued that amnesties would never be palatable to the majority of victims and survivors he represents in south Armagh.

"I am sickened to again hear proposals suggesting amnesty style deals for those accused of Troubles-related crimes," he said.

"The victims we represent have made it clear - no matter how it's spun, dressed up or sold - amnesty will never be acceptable to the majority of truly innocent victims."

Mr Frazer warned that the "deeply worrying" scenario could jeopardise any quest for truth, as it would result in former terrorists giving "questionable information" in exchange for amnesty.

"The victims will not be misled and the fight for truth, justice and closure continues," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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