Despite widespread opposition to the UK government’s Legacy Bill, it passed following a vote at Westminster last weekend.

The controversial Bill – which united all sides in Northern Ireland in opposition to it – was passed after a proposed amendment by the House of Lords was defeated by 288 votes to 205.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill will prevent future civil cases and inquests into Troubles-related offences.

Locally there is anger at the passing of the Bill, with the family of murdered councillor, Patsy Kelly, describing it as a “cruel piece of legislation that is designed to inflict as much pain as possible on those who dare to seek the truth and stand up to the UK government’s crimes”.

Mr. Kelly was abducted and murdered in 1974 after leaving his work in Trillick.

In June, a fresh inquest into the killing was granted by the Attorney General of Northern Ireland.

“It is also very clear that the Legacy Bill is about ensuring that the paper trail on countless state murders that lead to the highest levels of the UK government can forever be extinguished from history,” said Patsy Kelly Jnr.

“That the NI Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, celebrated with champagne on the Commons balcony after the bill was passed [last] Wednesday afternoon demonstrates the Tory party’s cruel and callous disregard for anyone who lost loved ones during the so-called Troubles.

“The time is now for all at international levels, such as the Irish government, United States, the Council of Europe, United Nations representatives and all international human rights bodies to come forward to end this rogue state’s attack on human rights and international law.”

Following the recent granting of a fresh inquest, Mr. Kelly said the family were awaiting an update from the Coroner’s office within this next month on a date for the preliminary hearing to take place.

“Be in no doubt, the fight continues. We are #NeverGivingUp,” he added, referring to the family’s campaign for answers and justice for Patsy Kelly Snr.

Reverend Alan Irwin, Church of Ireland rector of Colaghty Parish, Lack lost his father, Thomas, and uncle, Frederick, when they were murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1976 and 1979.

Thomas Irwin was murdered while at work, while his brother was murdered on his way to work.

Rev. Irwin said the passing of the Bill was “appalling” and it had “extinguished the light of justice”.

“It seems that we can forget about the legacy of murder. That somehow it is irrelevant, moving forward,” said Rev. Irwin. “I don’t want to be seen to be taking away, but we continue to bring people to justice for other historical abuse issues in the present.

“How is terrorist murder somewhat different or more acceptable that we can ignore it?

“I suppose that goes back to 1998 when it was given legitimacy,” he said adding that the reconciliation in the Bill was just an “add-on”.

Commenting on the legal challenge that has been launched following the passing of the Bill, Rev. Irwin believes the UK government will “plough ahead” with it anyway.

Rev. Irwin also felt that there was a “hypocrisy” from those suggesting the Irish government should take legal action against the Bill.

“I also find there’s a hypocrisy and a brass neck, and I think there is even a disconnect from some of the Northern Ireland politicians to suggest that the Irish government should take a case to the European courts on human rights about the Legacy bill.

“When you look at the Irish government’s track record, to date, on Legacy, theirs is virtually non-existent.

“They have failed miserably even for their own people who have been impacted by terrorism in their own jurisdiction, and not just that [there is] the cross-Border element.

“If they think they have some high moral ground in this, far be it,” he said, before concluding: “I just think society wants to turn its back on the innocent victims of terrorism, irrespective of what faith or religious background, or none.

“And really, ‘let’s bury this because we see this as a stumbling block to moving forward or a stumbling block to reconciliation’,” he claimed.