As news of the Irish Government’s decision to legally challenge the Northern Ireland Legacy Act under the European Convention of Human Rights, Irish American organizations who have been steadfast in their opposition to the Act welcomed and applauded the move.
The Brehon Law Society of New York released a statement from their president, Domhnall O’Cathain, saying:
“The Brehon Law Society of New York welcomes the decision of the Dublin government to initiate an interstate case against the United Kingdom under the European Convention of Human Rights with regard to the Amnesty Legislation recently enacted by London.
“Tánaiste Mícheál Martin put it accurately when he said that the refusal of the British government to account for the legitimate concerns of others regarding the legislation left the Dublin government with few options. The Dublin government, all political parties in Northern Ireland, the Labor party in Britain, and Irish Americans have long said that the legislation is incompatible with the Convention. Irish Americans, including the Brehons, have repeatedly voiced our concerns to the British government through Lord Jonathan Caine, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
“Despite our frustrations with the British government, we were comforted by the concerns expressed at the same time by Simon Coveney, T.D, former Minister for Foreign Affairs in Dublin. While the British government likely knows that the legislation is flawed, it always wanted to buy more time to delay uncomfortable litigation that exposed its role during The Troubles. The hope now is that the European Court will move quickly so that the victims in Northern Ireland can have their day in a court of law.”
The President of the Brehon Law Society of Nassau County, Catherine Stanton, said, “The Brehon Law Society of Nassau County fully supports Irelands decision to mount a legal challenge against Britain over a new law giving conditional amnesties to former soldiers and militants involved in decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Many victims and their families have waited upwards of half a century for justice for atrocities committed against them during that time. To deny them this right would be tantamount to another crime against those who have already suffered far too much.”
The Irish American Unity Conference applauded and endorsed the decision, saying, “We are aware that this decision involved difficult legal and political considerations, but the decision to proceed is the only right one. Britain’s Legacy Act, more properly known as the Amnesty Act, is one of the cruelest acts to date by a government which has waged virtual war on its own citizens in the North of Ireland for decades. This Amnesty Act, designed primarily to grant immunity to British Army veterans and their operatives who brutalized, tortured, and killed citizens with impunity, has poured untold additional grief on families in the North who have campaigned for years to learn the truth about their loved ones. The decision to challenge this law affirms Ireland’s leading role as an advocate for human rights around the world, in sharp contrast to the UK’s long-standing and ongoing disdain for human rights and brutal treatment of its subjects, whether in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, the American Colonies, China, or Northern Ireland.”
This story will be updated as more statements are released.