The speech made by Richard Thomson, the SNP MP for Gordon, in the House of Commons on 13 May 2021.
The pain that the loved ones of the victims of the Ballymurphy killings have gone through over the past half century is unimaginable. I pay tribute to their courage, their fortitude, their dignity and their unswerving determination to seek the truth—however difficult that was—about how their loved ones died. The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, put it extremely well when she said:
“Lots of lessons to be learned. Grief is grief. Justice must be blind. Too many empty chairs across NI and unanswered questions.”
The path to truth, justice and reconciliation, as we know, is an imperfect one. While the past cannot be changed, its truth can be acknowledged and reconciliations made easier. In that vein, the Prime Minister should come to the House to offer that apology in person on behalf of the citizens in whose names these actions were taken, and apologise not only for the length of time it has taken to bring truth to the families but for the unjustified and unjustifiable deaths of their entirely innocent loved ones. Does the Secretary of State agree more generally that justice delayed is justice denied and that the best interests of truth, reconciliation and the wider public interest are not best served by seeking to put a time bar on the pursuit of justice?