Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Kerry's amnesty call a courageous stand

Kerry Shenton Bamblett, whose soldier brother was shot dead in Londonderry in 1981, has made a remarkable contribution to the controversy over the charging of Army veterans for alleged crimes committed while serving in Northern Ireland
Kerry Shenton Bamblett, whose soldier brother was shot dead in Londonderry in 1981, has made a remarkable contribution to the controversy over the charging of Army veterans for alleged crimes committed while serving in Northern Ireland

Editor's Viewpoint

Kerry Shenton Bamblett, whose soldier brother was shot dead in Londonderry in 1981, has made a remarkable contribution to the controversy over the charging of Army veterans for alleged crimes committed while serving in Northern Ireland.

As Soldier F is expected to appear in court in the city charged with the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday and the attempted murder of four more, Kerry says that she does not want to know anything about the terrorists who killed her only brother.

Instead, she wants an amnesty for Army veterans and that would give her family peace of mind.

Whatever one thinks of her argument, it demonstrates a great generosity of spirit. Anyone reading her interview in this newspaper today can easily understand the dreadful impact her brother's death had on her family. Every one of the remaining four sisters, as well as their parents, all had breakdowns.

Her father is now dead and her mother suffers from dementia and Kerry still has dreams that her brother isn't really dead.

All of that shows how grief continues through the years and manifests itself in so many different ways.

Of course, the remaining members of the family have their questions about how their brother died and who is suspected of killing him, but they are prepared to forego answers if it serves what they see as a greater good, sparing Army veterans a dreaded knock at the door in their declining years to tell them they are being investigated for alleged legacy crimes.

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That is what sets Kerry's argument apart from so many who also want to see the veterans given an amnesty. It raises it above so much of the self-serving political debate which has been part of this controversy.

However, this newspaper has long argued that justice demands that no-one guilty of committing a crime should be above the law. Like Kerry, we recognise the service given by those who confronted terrorism for 30 years, but that does not make them immune from prosecution.

With investigators examining historic deaths, we believe that where evidence is found then the law should follow that evidence, no matter where it leads. That is the only way to ensure that everyone can have faith in the law and its administration. At the same time, we admire the courage of Kerry in her contribution to what is a fraught debate.

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