Activists urge Taoiseach to raise legacy issues of The Troubles with US President Joe Biden

A CROSS-COMMUNITY GROUP of victims of the Troubles have urged the Taoiseach to raise the UK Government’s legacy proposals with US President Joe Biden.

Micheál Martin met with the Truth and Justice Movement in Dublin today to discuss their opposition to London’s plans to introduce an amnesty on dispute-related prosecutions.

He told the group that the Irish government “has consistently engaged with the United States on legacy issues and will continue to do so,” his spokesman said.

Martin will likely travel to Washington to meet President Biden in March for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day visit, which has not taken place in person for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After the meeting, victims’ activists said the Taoiseach had offered them his full support and that he “totally rejected” the plan.

Activist Raymond McCord said: ‘He said he totally rejected the proposals, that he supported us there.

“We talked about American involvement. I lifted it. We would like to see Americans involved, I want this brought to the attention of Joe Biden.

“Full support is there for us, he agrees with everything we say.”

A spokesperson for Martin told the PA news agency: “The Taoiseach today met with representatives of a group of victims of The Troubles to discuss their concerns over inheritance issues.

“He told them that we have consistently engaged with the United States on legacy issues and will continue to do so.

“Ireland has expressed strong opposition to unilateral action on a statute of limitations which has been opposed by parties across Northern Ireland.”

The UK government wants to introduce a statute limiting future prosecution of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for incidents in The Troubles before April 1998.

This decision was met with opposition from all political parties on the island of Ireland.

The group of victims, including Michael Gallagher, Raymond McCord, Kate Nash and Cathy McIlvenny, have long campaigned against the proposals and recently met with Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney.

Coveney and the Taoiseach accepted an invitation to meet the group in Belfast.

McCord praised the Taoiseach after their hour-and-a-half meeting.

“He agreed that any proposal should have a victim-led approach, he was totally on board with that,” he said.

“They will engage with the UK government. We will be kept informed of what is happening. It will happen, it gave us hope and confidence too.

It was good to sit with a man, and you can tell by the way he talks to you that he’s telling the truth and not just telling it.

We all agreed that the meeting was above our own expectations, it went well.

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In July last year, the UK government published a command document outlining its intention to bar future prosecution of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for incidents in The Troubles prior to April 1998.

The proposals, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, would also end all inquiries and legacy civil actions.

They were strongly condemned by the Taoiseach in the Dáil last month.

“It would be completely unacceptable, it would be a betrayal of the victims of all violence,” he said.

“There’s no sense here for a lot of people, a lot of victims, closure, answers in terms of who did what.

“Many, many people feel like they’ve been forgotten or the loss of their loved ones has been forgotten completely, and there’s no balance in how we approach that.

“I believe the UK government has dragged its feet on the legacy too long in my opinion.”

Kevin E. Boling