Jim Shannon breaks down in tears as he calls for justice for cousin

‘No IRA man has EVER been made accountable for their murders 51 years ago’: Moment DUP MP Jim Shannon breaks down in tears as he calls for justice for cousin killed during the Troubles

  • Jim Shannon recalled killing cousin Kenneth Smyth and Daniel McCormick
  • Both men were shot dead when they were travelling to work in 1971
  • Mr Shannon spoke of ‘angst and agony’ that no one has been brought to justice
  • Was speaking in debate about Government’s new bill on legacy of the Troubles
  • Proposes stopping prosecutions on both sides to focus on information recovery 

A DUP MP broke down in tears last night as he called for justice for his cousin and others who were murdered by the IRA during the Troubles. 

Jim Shannon, 67, was overcome with emotion as he recalled what happened to cousin Kenneth Smyth and those he served with in the Ulster Defence Regiment. 

Sergeant Smyth was killed along with his friend Daniel McCormick as they travelled to work together in December 1971.  

He spoke of his ‘angst and agony’ as he described the ‘murders’ and the fact that ‘no IRA man was held accountable’. 

Addressing Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, he questioned what he would do to ‘make sure that happens’.  

The MP had to briefly pause to gather himself after struggling to continue in the debate in the House of Commons about a new bill on the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

The Government’s bill, which passed its second reading by 285 to 208 votes, proposes replacing police investigations and court cases into killings with an information recovery body. 

This institution would offer immunity to individuals on both sides of the conflict who co-operate by helping to provide information for victims’ families. 

Critics have slammed the legislation as a ‘whitewash’, but veterans have welcomed it.

Yesterday two Northern Ireland groups that represent many victims of Army shootings held protests against the bill in both Derry and at the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast.  

A DUP MP broke down in tears last night as he called for justice for his cousin and others who were murdered by the IRA during the Troubles. Jim Shannon was overcome with emotion as he recalled what happened to cousin Kenneth Smyth and those he served with in the Ulster Defence Regiment

Speaking to Mr Lewis, who had earlier spoken in support of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, Mr Shannon spoke movingly of his cousin and others who were killed. 

He said: ‘The Secretary of State mentioned those who served in uniform. I remind him gently and kindly, but seriously as well, that my cousin Kenneth Smyth and his friend Daniel McCormick, both in the Ulster Defence Regiment, neither of whom were able to—excuse me. 

‘No IRA man was ever made accountable for their murders 51 years ago.’ 

Mr Shannon’s cousin, who was 28 when he was killed, was murdered with Mr McCormick, 29, when they were travelling to work together in County Tyrone. 

Sergeant Smyth was a serving member of the UDR – the regiment of the British Army that had been set up a year earlier and which became the dominant official force in Northern Ireland.


Sergeant Smyth (left), who was 28 when he was killed, was shot with Mr McCormick (right), 29, when they were travelling to work together in County Tyrone

He was off duty at the time, whilst Mr McCormick had left the UDR shortly before his killing. 

As well as serving in the UDR, Mr Smyth ran his own construction business, which Mr McCormick also worked for. 

Mr Shannon went on to refer to other killings.  

‘Stuart Montgomery, a wee 20-year-old police officer was murdered outside Pomeroy—no IRA man was ever made accountable for his murder,’ he said. 

‘John Birch, Steven Smart, John Bradley and Michael Adams, the four UDR men killed at Ballydugan, four men who served this country in uniform—no one was made accountable for their murders.’ 

He added: ‘Secretary of State, you can understand the angst and the agony that I have on behalf of my constituents. 

‘I want to have the justice that they have been denied for over 50 years—in the case of the four UDR men, for 32 years this Sunday past. What are you doing to make sure that happens?’

Private Birch, Lance Corporal Bradley, Lance Corporal Adams and Private Smart were killed when the IRA detonated a 1,000lb bomb under their car in 1990. 

Constable Montgomery was killed aged 18 in an attack in 1981. 

Mr Lewis said he had touched on ‘the failure of the current system to be able to bring that accountability, that understanding and that truth for people’, adding: ‘That’s exactly what we want to achieve with this legislation, is an outcome that means that people get the truth, and with that does come accountability.’ 

He described the subject of historic killings as a ‘difficult and painful area, an area that there hasn’t been consensus’.

After listening to all parties, he added: ‘It is sometimes for us in Government to take those difficult decisions, to find a way forward that can deliver a better outcome for people as we move forward in the future.’ 

However, former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith urged the Government to ‘look again’ at its proposals.

Mr Smith warned of an ‘unfair cut-off point’, and highlighted that ‘consent is vital’ when dealing with legacy issues.

He also raised concerns over the Government’s plans for a new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

He said: ‘I urge the Government to look at again at the independence and investigatory powers of this body to ensure that it can guarantee victims a full and thorough investigation of their case that is legally compliant.

‘The shutting down of civil cases and of inquests, and the way it is done through this Bill, is also a source of much anger and worry.

‘Civil actions have provided an effective mechanism for victims to obtain discovery and reparations.’

He added: ‘Today many victims feel that they have been hit by a double whammy with this Bill. Their route to justice cut off, and at the same time their route to the truth restricted.’

Mr Smith also said he acknowledged the inquest system has used significant resources ‘often without conclusions’, but added: ‘I urge the Government to also look at this. 

‘There must be a fairer way of at least completing the current work programme, and avoiding such an unfair cut-off point.’

He went on: ‘On investigations and on inquests, I therefore urge the Government to pause and to listen to the voices of our valued Irish partners in the GFA (Good Friday Agreement), to Northern Ireland parties, and to the victims and survivors.

Mr Shannon had to briefly pause to gather himself after struggling to continue in the debate in the House of Commons about a new bill on the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles

‘I hope too that the Government will reflect on how it can reframe this Bill in order to gain the trust required to help deliver a resolution.’

‘I am deeply uncomfortable by the idea of voting for a Bill that will formalise immunity for those who have committed murder and other crimes, but I do however acknowledge that in the range of policy options that the Government is faced with, none are straightforward,’ he added.

Elsewhere in the debate, DUP MP Ian Paisley (North Antrim) said changes to the Bill are necessary, warning that it may ‘undermine the rule of law’ and said it ‘failed the Northern Ireland test of getting any sense of consensus whatsoever’.

Veterans will be ‘getting a crumb off the table and the crumb off the table is blue-moulded and will not taste very good’, he said.

Andrea Brown, whose police officer father Eric was shot dead by the IRA in 1983 when she was 12 told the BBC: ‘There’s nowhere else in the world that would try to make a law that murderers and serial killers do not have to face justice.

‘Victims are meant to forgive, draw a line under it, but how can we? No one’s sorry.

Five years after her father’s death, Ms Brown was injured in a bomb attack that killed six soldiers.

Criticism also came from Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry, who described the Bill as ‘unworkable and incompatible with the principles of justice’.

‘The difficulty we have here is that this debate is based around a false narrative of vexatious investigations or prosecutions, which simply does not stack up under scrutiny,’ he said.

He warned the legislation could end up ‘re-traumatising victims’ as ‘people are seeing the potential prospects, slim as it may be, of justice being knocked out over their heads’.

Conservative former defence minister Johnny Mercer told the Commons: ‘There are no winners in legacy, it is a mess.

‘The whole thing is a disaster but we have to do what we can to bring some sort of end and finality and truth to this process for the victims, and that is what I want colleagues to focus on.’

The Plymouth Moor View MP later added: ‘People will get away with things they should not get away with. 

‘We can bemoan that all we like, we can make speeches, we can speak to our home crowd as much as we like, it is never going to change. Everybody knows it is true.’

More than 3,500 people were killed during the Troubles, including over 1,000 members of the security forces.

Most of the deaths are attributed to republican paramilitaries while 30 per cent are blamed on loyalist paramilitaries, and 10 per cent attributed to the security forces

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