18.05.21- Brid Smith – Dail Eireann

Deputy Bríd Smith
After a long and difficult campaign, the Ballymurphy massacre families have been vindicated at last. It was moving to see their relief and joy. The Irish State, Government and media were all over them last week, but where were they for the decades the families were knocking on their doors seeking justice? It made me think about how most states will cover up events to which they do not want to own up – what the Black Lives Matter campaign in America has pointed to, the Stardust victims in Dublin, the family of Terence Wheelock, the family of Shane O’Farrell and, most lately, George Nkencho. Their families are knocking on doors but being denied justice. I plead with the Taoiseach to listen to them and ensure that justice is not delayed for others.
Within hours of the announcement of the findings of the Ballymurphy massacre inquest, we saw the bizarre scenario of one arm of the British state, the judiciary, judging members of another arm of the British state, the army, who were responsible for killing ten innocent civilians, and a third arm, the British Government, announcing that it wanted to make plans to make those perpetrators and the perpetrators of all other violence immune from prosecution. The British Government has to be challenged on this. Its plans to end the reinvestigation of killings by state forces in Northern Ireland are wrong. All families of victims deserve independent, fully resourced investigations into the deaths of their loved ones. They deserve the support of our Government in seeking that.
The British Government must be made to feel the pressure to stick by the Stormont House Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement. Various public consultations on how to deal with the past have come and gone in the North. Habitually, London has broken its commitments. Britain must not now be allowed to bail out of its commitments to previous agreements.
Interestingly, Prince Charles is in Belfast today. He is the colonel-in-chief of the parachute regiment, the regiment responsible for Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday. I wonder
whether anyone will ask him his views on these outcomes and invite him to apologise to the families.
Boris Johnson and the Tory Party are feigning concern for former British soldiers. According to the Royal British Legion, 6,000 former British soldiers are homeless on the streets of Britain, many of them dependent on food banks. Some 10,000 are in jail or on probation and 50,000 suffer from permanent mental health issues or injuries and are dependent on state services. These veterans live in miserable conditions and are not respected by the British Government. As many as 200 former soldiers could now face prosecution if the British Government is prevented from getting away with its latest move. Is that what it is scared of? It has a great deal to lose through the testimony of almost 200 former British soldiers if they are allowed to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland.
We have to stand up to the British Government and honour the memory of the Ballymurphy families, the Bloody Sunday families and others by not allowing it to rewrite history and stop the investigations into all of the deaths that have occurred.