'top priority' | 

UK Labour Party pledges to ditch controversial amnesty legislation for Northern Ireland

Shadow Secretary of State Peter Kyle has been working closely with Conflict victims and has made it clear one of his government’s first acts would be to reverse the bill

Prominent victims campaigner Raymond McCord speaking at Queen's University in Belfast ahead of the screening of 'The Victims Stories' a film about victims of the Trouble PA Photo. The screening of a film about victims of Northern Ireland's troubled past is intended to pressurise the British Government to ditch it's controversial legacy bill. Photo: Rebecca Black/PA Wire© PA

Richard SullivanSunday World

The UK Labour Party has pledged to ditch controversial amnesty legislation, should Tories manage to force it through.

Shadow Secretary of State Peter Kyle has been working closely with Conflict victims and has made it clear should Sir Keir Starmer secure the keys to Downing Street one of his government’s first acts would be to reverse the bill.

The contentious bill is set for its second reading in the House of Lords, although it has not been listed on this parliamentary term’s order of business.

The campaign of opposition to the plan continues. Last week MPs and peers attended the screening of the documentary Victims Stories at the Palace of Westminster.

And it is understood Mr Kyle made his commitment while attending the event stating the legislation’s reversal was a ‘top priority’ should the Tories force it into law.

Conservative MPs and Peers did not take up invitations to attend the screening and they remain the only mainstream political party in the UK and Ireland to support the plan which would grant amnesty for all Conflict related crimes – including thousands of murders.

It would put paramilitaries and ex-British servicemen guilty of a litany of atrocities beyond the reach of the law.

Johnny Mercer, Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs was among those who did not take up an invitation. Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Northern Leader Michelle O’Neill did not respond to invitations, despite the party having expressed opposition to the legislation.

Other parties including the SDLP and the DUP were represented in the shape of party chief Colum Eastwood and Strangford MP Jim Shannon.

A number of senior legal figures from Northern Ireland also travelled to London for the showing.

It follows similar screenings at Leinster House for TDs and senators, and in Belfast for an invited audience.

The documentary, which is to feature at an international film festival in the US next year, represents the first time victims who have lost loved ones during the Troubles have come together to tell their stories.

The film was made by the Truth and Justice Movement which represents people who have lost family members to paramilitary violence and at the hands of State forces.

Eight people including victims campaigner Raymond McCord who lost his son at the hands of the UVF, Julie Hambleton whose sister was murdered in the 1974 IRA pub bombings in Birmingham and Kathy McIlvenny whose sister was raped and murdered by members of the UDA and her nephew shot dead by the UVF took part in the film.

The film had been due to be screened at Westminster in September but the passing of the Queen meant it had to be postponed.

Last week a House of Commons Joint Committee on Human rights decreed the proposals were likely a breach of human rights laws.

Mr McCord of the Truth and Justice Movement said should it be enacted it would represent the ‘biggest abuse of human rights in British history’.

“It is hard to imagine a bigger breach of human rights.Democracy, along with truth and justice, will no longer be part of the British way of life and replaced by cover ups and denial of justice,” he said.

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