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Screening of Troubles film ‘aims to pressure Government to ditch legacy Bill’

Victims campaigners (l-r) Michael Gallagher, Billy McManus, Kate Nash, Julie Hambleton and Raymond McCord at Queen’s University ahead of the screening of a film about victims of the Troubles. (Rebecca Black/PA)
Victims campaigners (l-r) Michael Gallagher, Billy McManus, Kate Nash, Julie Hambleton and Raymond McCord at Queen’s University ahead of the screening of a film about victims of the Troubles. (Rebecca Black/PA)

The screening of a film about victims of Northern Ireland’s troubled past is intended to pressure the British Government to ditch its controversial legacy Bill, a campaigner has said.

Representatives from the British, Irish and US administrations were attending the screening of The Victims Stories at Queen’s University Belfast on Thursday evening.

It features eight people who lost family members in atrocities in the region, including the Omagh bomb, the Ballymurphy massacre and Bloody Sunday.

Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Caine was among those in attendance after Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris declined his invitation.

Lord Caine
Lord Caine (Liam McBurney/PA)

Victims Commissioner Geraldine Hanna was also due to attend as well as families of victims.

Campaigner Raymond McCord said the purpose of the film is to stop the British Government’s legacy Bill.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill offers an effective amnesty for Troubles crimes for people who co-operate with an information body.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jr was killed by loyalist paramilitaries, said the proposed legislation “rewards the murderers and punishes the victims”.

“They have decided they want to give the murderers amnesties, there can be no investigations, no prosecutions, no inquests and no civil actions,” he told the PA news agency.

“When it came out, Boris Johnson and Brandon Lewis told Parliament that it would help us move on – the only people it is going to help move on is the murderers.

“We got all the political parties from across Ireland together at Belfast City Hall a year ago, they all signed a document supporting us against the legacy Bill, they didn’t do that with the Good Friday.

“We went to Westminster last year, got all the parties in a room, apart from the Conservatives. They signed the same document.

“Now the British Government says it wants to change the Northern Ireland Protocol because it doesn’t have consent of both communities – this Bill has the consent of no community, no political party.

“The hypocrisy of the Conservatives is shown again.

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord (Rebecca Black/PA)

“The film will show what the truth is all about.”

There is almost universal opposition to the proposed legislation which would see an effective amnesty offered for people accused of Troubles offences as long as they co-operate with a new truth recovery body.

It is also set to halt future civil cases and inquests linked to killings during the conflict.

The Bill has already been through the House of Commons and is set for consideration by the House of Lords.

A Northern Ireland Office spokeswoman said: “Ahead of the passage of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill in the House of Lords this autumn, Lord Caine is this week continuing his engagement with a range of stakeholders in Northern Ireland, including with victims and survivors.

“This builds on his engagement throughout the summer, and reflects the UK Government’s intention to consult widely on the Bill with interested parties regarding their concerns, and how these might be addressed as the Bill proceeds through Parliament.”