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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy Stock Photo Michael O'Hare, who has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella who was shot dead by the British Army in Co Armagh.

Brother of girl shot dead by British soldier urges MPs to reject contentious Troubles legacy Bill

The UK Government has said its legacy proposals are the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles.

A MAN WHOSE sister was shot dead by a British soldier almost half a century ago has urged MPs to reject a controversial Bill to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation Bill) is set to return to the House of Commons this week.

Peers recently removed a contentious element of the proposed legislation which would have offered immunity from prosecution to those who committed crimes during the Troubles if they co-operated with a truth-recovery body, but MPs will have the opportunity to restore that provision.

The legislation would also stop new inquests and civil cases taking place.

Victims’ groups, the main Stormont political parties and the Irish government have all expressed their opposition to the Bill.

The UK Government has said the legislation is the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles.

Michael O’Hare, whose 12-year-old sister Majella O’Hare was shot dead in Co Armagh 47 years ago, said victims deserved the right to justice.

He said: “MPs need to pause and put themselves in my shoes.

“If your sister was shot and killed, you’d want the truth to come out and you’d rightly expect justice.

“My sister Majella’s life mattered, she was taken from us in the most horrific way.

“This Bill betrays her, my family and every victim still waiting for the accountability we’re all entitled to.

“Shame on the UK Government ignoring our pleas to drop the Bill.

“I call on MPs to show up, reject the Bill and tell Government to think again.”

majella-ohare-who-was-shot-dead-by-the-army-in-co-armagh-44-years-ago-her-brother-michael-ohare-has-vowed-to-fight-for-justice-for-his-sister-who-at-12-years-old-was-shot-in-the-back-whilst-walki Alamy Stock Photo Majella O'Hare who was shot dead by the British Army in Co Armagh in 1976. Alamy Stock Photo

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International Northern Ireland deputy director, said the Government was ignoring the pleas of victims.

She said: “It is disgraceful that a Bill universally opposed, and which betrays victims in the most cruel and contemptuous way possible, continues to be pushed through by the UK Government.

“The call to abandon this shameful Bill has never been more urgent.

“Now is the time for MPs to decide whether they will prop up Government’s plan to protect murderers or stand with victims and for their rights to truth and justice.

“The stakes for victims could not be higher and we must not lose sight of the fact that there is a better, previously agreed, human rights-compliant and victim-centred way forward to deal with the legacy of the conflict.”

grainne-teggart-campaign-manager-from-amnesty-international-outside-the-belfast-high-court-after-the-court-rules-on-the-legality-of-northern-ireland Alamy Stock Photo Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International. Alamy Stock Photo

She added: “As it stands, the UK Government has chosen to ignore this. All eyes are now on MPs to see if they will do the same.

“MPs must also consider the dangerous international precedent which will be set by this Bill; providing a blueprint for letting state forces and illegal armed groups off with murder and other serious crimes – a legacy no government should want to create.”

Recent protests against the legacy Bill have called on the Irish government to take an interstate case against the UK to the international court of the Council of Europe should the Bill pass, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would consider.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has previously said he believes the Bill is human rights-compliant and will lead to more families receiving information about the deaths of their loved ones during the Troubles.

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