The sister of a woman raped and murdered by a UDA gang has slammed plans to end Troubles prosecutions.
Cathy McIlvenny said she was “disgusted” to hear Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce the proposed amnesty legislation in the House of Commons.
It could mean the psychopathic killers of her sister Lorraine McCausland, who was raped and beaten to death with breeze blocks, escape justice.
In 2017, the PSNI arrested seven loyalists in connection with the 1987 sex attack in a north Belfast drinking den.
Detectives have in their possession fingerprints and DNA found at the scene, but efforts to prosecute could be scrapped if an amnesty is introduced.
“I was absolutely disgusted to hear Boris Johnson announce this amnesty plan. It’s a real betrayal of victims, a slap in our faces,” Cathy told Sunday Life.
“I want to know officially if Lorraine’s case will be covered by this because although UDA members were involved, it wasn’t sanctioned.
“As far as I am concerned, her rape and murder weren’t political. They had nothing to do with the Troubles.”
Cathy explained how the initial investigation was a whitewash, and it was only after an independent pathologist looked at the case that it was reopened.
A review by the Historical Enquiries Team also raised more questions than answers, with cold-case cops discovering that the former solider suspected of raping and murdering the mother-of-two had been recruited as a UDA informant a short time after the killing.
The probe also revealed evidence including a thumbprint on a can of beer containing traces of Lorraine’s blood which matched a fingerprint found inside the now demolished Tyndale drinking den where the murder took place.
This was available to RUC detectives at the time, but it was not acted upon.
Justice campaigner Cathy McIlvenny is adamant the lack of action was a move to protect informants in the UDA gang.
“Keeping them onside [the probe] was more important than investigating Lorraine’s rape and murder,” she said.
“That’s why all victims are so opposed to this amnesty — because not only will it protect killers, it will also protect those in power who allowed them to kill.
“All I hear is excuses being made for paramilitaries. Now we have the government trying to sweep up for them. It’s disgusting.”
The UDA gang that raped and murdered Lorraine McCausland are also suspected of carrying out three other breeze-block killings during a 13-month period between March 1986 and April 1987.
The victims were loyalist Hill McFarlane, Catholic John O’Neill and disabled Protestant Robert Coggles.
In Lorraine’s case, they attacked the 23-year-old after she fell asleep in the illegal Tyndale drinking club in the Ballysillan area of Belfast.
At closing time, she was taken into an office at the back of the premises and raped. The single mum was then dragged onto wasteground, where she had breeze blocks dropped on her head and body.
Two years ago, her son Stuart began legal action to sue police over an alleged failure to properly investigate the shocking killing.
The planned proceedings centre on allegations that officers knew those linked to the murder and failed to carry out an adequate investigation.
The new legacy proposals would ban civil proceedings being taken over Troubles-related cases.
Lorraine also left behind a two-year-old son, Craig McCausland, who was shot dead by the UVF 18 years later. His 2005 murder may not be covered by the government’s proposed Troubles amnesty, although no cut-off date has been proposed as yet.
Announcing the statue of limitations plan at Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, Boris Johnson said its intention was to “draw a line under the Troubles”. The law will apply to ex-paramilitaries and former members of the security forces and will prevent proceedings being taken on crimes committed between 1969 and a date yet to be set.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Parliament it was a decision not taken lightly.
He explained: “We know that the prospect of the end of criminal prosecutions will be difficult for some to accept, and this is not a position that we take lightly.
“But we have arrived at the view that this would be the best way to facilitate an effective information retrieval and provision process, and the best way to help Northern Ireland move further along the road to reconciliation.
“It is a painful recognition of the reality of where we are.”
The Assembly has been urgently recalled for this Tuesday to discuss the government’s amnesty plans.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson this weekend called on the Irish government to bring forward fresh proposals to deal with Troubles-related legacy cases across the border.
A “robust” virtual meeting took place on Friday between the leaders of the main local parties and Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney joining in from his constituency office in Co Cork.
During the meeting, Mr Donaldson challenged Mr Coveney on the “responsibility of the Irish government to step up the mark”.
“They are no mere spectators in this process. Many of the deaths that occurred in the Troubles in Northern Ireland were carried out by the IRA, operating in the territory of the Irish republic,” the DUP chief stressed.
“A large number of deaths were carried out in the Irish Republic itself, including those who were abducted in Northern Ireland and murdered by the IRA in the Republic.”
The Lagan Valley MP said he wanted to see justice for those people killed across the border and that it was “therefore essential” that the Irish government “brings forward proposals to deal with legacy cases in its jurisdiction, and that should also mean the pursuit of justice.”
“The Irish government can’t, on the one hand, point the finger at the British government about what they’re doing and then, [on the other] sit back and do nothing when it comes to their responsibility.
“We are clear the outcome of any legacy process must not only include proposals to deal with what happened in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
“[It] must also include firm proposals from the Irish government to provide victims with access to justice and truth in the Republic of Ireland as well.”