Murals on sides of houses in Londonderry
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the two families said "many might think we would be on opposite sides of this debate, but we are not".
Northern Ireland

Victims on both sides of the Troubles unite to press PM to scrap Legacy Bill

Murals on sides of houses in Londonderry
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the two families said "many might think we would be on opposite sides of this debate, but we are not".

Two families who had relatives die during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have joined forces to oppose the Legacy Bill.

The family of a young private in the British Army, killed by the IRA, and the family of a child shot in the back and killed by a British soldier as she walked to church, have come together to write to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State urging the Government to scrap the Northern Ireland (Legacy & Reconciliation) Bill.

In the letter, Michael O'Hare, brother of Majella O'Hare who died in 1976, and Andy and Martha Seaman, brother and mother of the late Private Tony Harrison, expressed "grave concern about the bill".

"As two families that have suffered unimaginable loss and pain as a consequence of the Troubles, many might think we would be on opposite sides of this debate, but we are not," they said.

The families said in the letter to Rishi Sunak and Chris Heaton-Harris, they reject the Government's "claim that this bill is about looking after our veterans". 

"Anyone who acted within the law has nothing to fear," they said. "Military families like ours stand to lose as much as anyone else.

"Any hope that either of these deaths will ever result in any meaningful truth, accountability or justice will be cruelly taken away from us by this bill which protects the perpetrators of serious crimes rather than those who suffered at their hands."

Watch: What is the Good Friday Agreement?

The families also said the bill would "enable the killers of our loved ones to ask for a water-tight immunity from prosecution in exchange for a simple account of what happened". 

"We – the families – would not even be notified if an application for immunity by the killers was made, meaning we would not be able to raise any objection to it.

"It is hard to begin to express to you how devastated we are by these proposals."

The letter also outlined the families' objection to the Government's suggestion the "existing processes in Northern Ireland have only fed families' trauma and made it harder for us to recover".

"But for us, it is Government reneging on agreements to deal with the past that has compounded and aggravated our trauma and making us feel as though our loved ones' lives simply did not matter."

"This bill has united communities across Northern Ireland in opposition to it in a way that no other Government proposal in recent history has been able to do.

"Parliamentary committees, international experts, the US Congress and others have made clear this bill is contrary to international human rights law and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

"It's not too late to do the right thing and scrap the bill," the letter concluded.