US Congressional and Irish American leaders respond to passage of Legacy Legislation

News of the British Government’s passage of the Legacy legislation was met with a swift response from American Congressional leaders.

Congressman Richie Neal of Massachusetts said, “I am disappointed by the news that the Legacy Bill has passed through Westminster. The underlying principles of peace in the Good Friday Agreement are what have allowed us to achieve 25 years of stability on the island of Ireland.

Everyone involved, including both governments, acted together in good faith and gave up something to reach this agreement. 25 years later, we are now faced with the Legacy Bill, legislation that represents a fundamental shift on the issue of the Troubles.

Truth, transparency, and justice. That is what the victims of this horrific period in Ireland’s history, and their families, deserve. The Legacy Bill inhibits this from coming to fruition.”

Congressman Bill Keating of Pennsylvania, the ranking Member of the Europe Subcommittee in the United States House of Representatives, said, “This bill, as passed, stops any new inquests from being opened into crimes committed during the Troubles, and allows conditional amnesty for individuals accused of committing killings while denying victims and their families the justice and accountability they deserve.

“This bill, as passed, stops any new inquests from being opened into crimes committed during the Troubles, and allows conditional amnesty for individuals accused of committing killings while denying victims and their families the justice and accountability they deserve.

“As the Ranking Member of the Europe Subcommittee in the United States House of Representatives, I have voiced opposition to this legislation, which I believe directly threatens the stable peace established by the Good Friday Agreement and undermines processes agreed upon in the Stormont House Agreement. Families from all communities in Northern Ireland deserve the truth about crimes committed against their loved ones as well as justice for the violence they faced. It is shameful the British government has passed this legislation, failing to heed the call of so many who oppose this bill and denying its own citizens their fundamental right to truth and justice. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland achieve the justice and accountability necessary to ensure long-term peace and stability in the region.”

Congressman Boyle of Pennsylvania said, “Simply put, this legislation will deny justice to thousands of families, across all communities in Northern Ireland, who were victims of violence during the Troubles.

“In 2014, by way of the Stormont House Agreement, the British government promised to investigate lingering and controversial killings that took place during that period, including those committed in collusion with British state forces. Today, the UK government broke that promise.”

The President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Daniel O’Connell released a statement, which read in part, “With the passage today of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, the government of Prime Minister Sunak has decided to add their own sad chapter in the history of Britain’s callous disregard for the rights of the Irish people. The bill trades equal access to the courts and justice that are the mark of all democratic societies for an unrealistic, forlorn hope that perpetrators of killings and torture will, after decades of literally getting away with murder, will now have a ‘Road to Damascus” moment.

“In unilaterally adopting this bill, the United Kingdom has violated the Good Friday, Stormont House, and Fresh Start Agreements, which now join the dubious company of the Treaty of Limerick and the Third Home Rule Bill. It is yet another sad justification of Britain’s sobriquet “Perfidious Albion.” With this track record of broken commitments and promises, how can one have any faith in the dubious truth recovery provisions of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill?”