Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said the sentencing of an ex-soldier responsible for killing Aidan McAnespie shows the futility of the British government’s legacy legislation.
Mr Eastwood was speaking after the ex-soldier was handed a suspended sentence for the killing of Mr McAnespie in 1988.
He paid tribute to the McAnespie family for their relentless pursuit of truth and justice for Aidan.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“The thoughts of the entire SDLP are with the McAnespie family today following the sentencing of the soldier who killed Aidan. The world now knows what happened that day, the judge has been clear in his ruling and I hope they can take comfort from that. Their campaign has been inspirational and will bring heart and comfort to other victims’ and families across the North who are carrying on their own journey for truth and justice.
“This case shows the futility of the British government’s attempt to close down routes to truth and justice for families like the McAnespies. Nobody has the right to stand in the way of families seeking to hold those responsible for the deaths of their loved ones to account. The judges' comments about the ‘deliberately false account’ given by this former soldier further demonstrates the need for investigative processes which interrogate the accounts of those accused of serious crimes.
“I would also like to express my disappointment at some of the commentary following today’s ruling. The McAnespie family have spent the last 35-years without Aidan and have been forced to fight every day to secure this verdict. Certain people would do well to remember what this family has been through and how much they had to overcome to get this far. This is a day for celebrating Aidan’s memory and honouring the McAnespie family’s determination in their cause and we cannot allow the insensitivity of others to distract from that.”