Troubles legacy bill criticised at London trauma event

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill came under strong criticism last night from a range of voices at a West London event on dealing with trauma from the conflict.

Former Irish army officer, Senator Tom Clonan, described the legislation, which received its second reading this week as ‘an act of collective self-harm.’

Among those attending the event was Andy Seaman, brother of Tony Harrison, a private in the Parachute Regiment, who was shot dead by the IRA while visiting his girlfriend in Belfast in 1991. He told the meeting that ‘the bill which they are introducing would, overnight, put an end to any inquiries, any kind of scrutiny, and any hope of justice, for families who have received no justice for decades. People who were guilty of committing the most heinous unimaginable crimes would be basically free to stroll off into the sunset.’

As part of the event, a trauma workshop was hosted by Psychotherapist Peter Finn. Asked if there was any role for an amnesty in a truth and reconciliation process, Mr Finn said that “there’s a lot to be thought about in terms of how it’s negotiated and how the families of the victims are brought into that conversation from the beginning, rather than being told at some point that this is the outcome of some conversations in which you were not involved.”

‘Personally, I would hesitate to voice an opinion about what the right thing is. I would want such an amnesty to be a product of some diligent work that’s done with integrity and rigour, and with humility and honesty, taking the initiative from the families and survivors.’

The event was presented by Troubles, Tragedy & Trauma, an organisation founded by Michael O'Hare, whose 12-year-old sister Majella was shot dead by a soldier in 1976. The group works aims to highlight legacy issues from the Northern Ireland conflict, encourage reconciliation and promote positive mental wellbeing for those affected by the Troubles.







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