Northern Ireland secretary watches ‘powerful’ film about victims of Troubles

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris called a film about the experience of victims of the Troubles “powerful”.

Mr Heaton-Harris was also pressed on his government’s controversial bill to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past by victims activist Raymond McCord after viewing the victims’ stories.

The film, which tells the story of eight victims, has already been shown to parliamentarians in Westminster as well as members of the Oireachtas.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was killed by loyalists during the Troubles, met Mr Heaton-Harris in Belfast on Tuesday where they watched the film.

Mr McCord described Mr Heaton-Harris as ‘friendly’ but claimed he was seeking to justify the inheritance bill.

The Legacy Bill, which is currently going through its parliamentary stages, would see a form of immunity offered to those suspected of having killed during the conflict if they agreed to cooperate with a new truth-telling body.

It would also bar future civil cases and investigations related to Troubles Crimes.

It was almost universally opposed by parties of all political cleavages as well as by all victims’ groups.

Last week, Mr Heaton-Harris told the House of Commons he would make changes to the bill, but did not specify what those changes would be.

Mr McCord said of his meeting with Mr Heaton-Harris: ‘He did not mention amnesties, inquiries, prosecutions, investigations or civil actions.

“He focused on murderers telling their side of the truth about how they murdered innocent men, women and children and then granted amnesty.

“Although we raised all the proposals, the Secretary of State lost his words trying to defend the bill. He failed to tell us of any victim who agrees with her. Like no one does.

“We now have a British government that puts the testimonies of the murderers before the victims.

‘Mr Heaton-Harris was unable or unwilling to answer whether, after watching the film, did he now believe the bill would help victims move on.’

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland office said: ‘The Secretary of State was grateful for the opportunity to watch The Victims’ Stories film, which is a powerful example of why we need to offer better outcomes for all those directly affected by the disorders.

“The Secretary of State remains fully committed to listening to the views of victims and survivors and to carefully considering how their concerns can be addressed as the Inheritance Bill continues its passage through Parliament.”