Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) says the Legacy Bill is a shameful betrayal of innocent victims of terrorism by Westminster.

The human rights charity calls on Government Ministers to re-think the Bill in the face of widespread opposition from political parties and victim groups.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is nothing more than a sop to the terrorists who inflicted such pain and anguish on the whole community.

“Lip-service is paid to innocent victims and even the new amendments brought forward by the Government do nothing to assuage genuinely held concerns.

“This Bill denies justice, closes the door to making the guilty amenable for their heinous crimes and says bluntly to victims that they don’t matter.

“This is all about political expediency. If Ministers had any sense, they would act on the advice we have offered and amend this obnoxious piece of draft legislation.

“We know that in many cases going back to the seventies there is little or no prospect of bringing those who shot and bombed to Court. However, in the handful of cases where there is a slim chance of a prosecution, surely that should be the focus and main priority. Terrorists should never be given the possibility to get off the hook.

“The relatives of victims of terrorism cannot be cast aside to the margins. They should be front and centre, yet this Bill offers them little respect and fails to deal with their legitimate demands.

“Instead, the emphasis is incorrectly on drawing a line on the past, leaving countless crimes unsolved and causing victims to feel they have been ignored and disrespected. This Legacy Bill is a shameful betrayal of innocent victims of terrorism by Westminster.”