US Congress expected to pass bipartisan resolution calling on UK to drop Troubles amnesty

Posted By: February 13, 2022

A US House of Representatives resolution calling on the UK Government to drop plans for an amnesty on Troubles killings is expected to pass, according to The Times.

Christopher Leebody. Belfast Telegraph. Sunday, February 13, 2022 

Some 35 congressmen and women, including senior Republican Party members, have co-sponsored the motion before the House foreign affairs committee, which also calls for the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

According to Bill Keating, a Democratic congressman for Massachusetts, the bipartisan resolution – which also calls for the prosecution of army soldiers in relation to Bloody Sunday in 1972 – could be passed “in the next few weeks”.

Mr. Keating, who drafted resolution 888, told the newspaper: “Those of us in the US on both sides of the aisle feel America is part of the Good Friday agreement so we feel vested in its success.

“It is again being threatened on issues surrounding Brexit and the protocol. It was the UK that brokered the language [on] Brexit so they, in a sense, are trying to orphan their own child as this progresses.”

In July last year, the UK Government published a command paper outlining its intention to prohibit future prosecutions of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for Troubles incidents pre-dating April 1998.

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

The proposals are opposed by all the main parties at Stormont, the Irish government, and many victims’ groups.

In November last year, twenty-one members of the US Congress are asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken to issue a public statement of opposition to the UK Government’s proposed Troubles amnesty.

The resolution is understood to have secured support from senior Democrats, including Congressman Richard Neal, chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

It has also won the backing of influential Republicans such as Elise Stefanik, who chairs the Republican Conference on Capitol Hill.

Resolution 888 calls: “Upon British authorities to charge individuals who committed unjustifiable crimes on Bloody Sunday [and] opposes any attempt by the British government to implement amnesty or statute of limitation laws that would end or inhibit investigations and prosecutions of crimes committed during the Troubles, including on Bloody Sunday”.

On the protocol, Mr. Keating added: “I do think that Simon Coveney, the minister for foreign affairs, has been trying to find areas of agreement and we are hoping that Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, would be able to perhaps put new eyes on it.

“We’ve [tried] to demonstrate in a bipartisan sense in the US that we want to see success here as well.”