An amnesty over Troubles-era prosecutions will only rekindle anger and bitter division

Is the proposal wise, asks Kim Sengupta, at a time when Northern Ireland is once again facing uncertainty?

Wednesday 12 May 2021 19:51
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<p>Family members of the Ballymurphy victims after listening to the findings of the inquest report</p>

Family members of the Ballymurphy victims after listening to the findings of the inquest report

When Michael Stone walked out from behind the bleak, grey walls of Maze on a July morning twenty-one years ago, it signalled the closure of a prison with a grim history tied to the Troubles, and also a key step towards ending the long years of bitter strife.

In March 1988, Stone, a loyalist paramilitary, had carried out an attack at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast. I and many other journalists were there at the time, covering the funeral of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar, when he opened fire and threw grenades, killing three people and injuring 60 others.

Stone, who was facing at least 30 years in prison, was the first of a batch of around 90 paramilitaries, loyalist and republican, who were freed under the Good Friday Agreement – many after serving just a fraction of their sentences, and some of them responsible for appalling atrocities.

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