16 December 2005

‘OTR’ law blasted by brother of Para victim

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston

The brother of a young man killed by British paratroopers in one of the worst massacres of the Troubles last night called for the scrapping of the proposed Northern Ireland Offences Bill as controversy surrounding the planned legislation deepened.
Under the proposals of the new legislation people currently classified as ‘On the Runs’ will not have to serve time in prison for offences committed before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.
Their cases would instead be heard by a tribunal and if found guilty they would not be imprisoned but would receive a criminal record.
There are believed to be around 20-30 OTRs living mainly in the Republic.
However the legislation proposed by the British government last month also covered all members of the British security forces involved in state killings or in collusion with loyalist paramilitary murder gangs.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said that the families of those whose loved ones had been killed by state forces would never accept legislation that allowed the killers to escape court.
His comments came after newly installed Tory leader, David Cameron, on a visit to Belfast, said that so-called ‘On the Runs’ must appear in court as part of the legislation.
DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson, also claimed the British government was considering alterations to the proposed legislation.
In his strongest attack on the legislation to date, John Kelly told Daily Ireland: “It should be scrapped – pure and simple. This is a diabolical piece of legislation and the security forces have been removed from it.
“There's no sense in beating about the bush on this one any longer.
“The soldiers who killed our loved ones should not only be brought before a court, but prosecuted as well."
Meanwhile new Tory leader David Cameron has stated he would support the peace process during a visit to Lagan College, the North's first integrated secondary school for Catholics and Protestants.
He said his party would work with the government to bring peace and progress to the North but stressed his inaugural visit as leader was designed to listen to people's concerns.

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