Politics

Anger as UK announces ‘amnesty’ for troops and terrorists’ Troubles crimes

Ministers have introduced a statute of limitations to finish all prosecutions associated to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed the plan for tackling the legacy of the battle which left greater than 3,500 folks useless.

It comes after rising outrage on the prosecution of British Army veterans a long time after they served within the province.

But it would additionally draw a line beneath investigations into terrorist atrocities earlier than the Good Friday Agreement 23 years in the past.

The strategy has been slammed by political events and victims’ teams as a “de facto amnesty” for each veterans and former paramilitaries, an outline the UK authorities rejects.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed the Government intends to introduce a statute of limitations which might finish all prosecutions of ex-paramilitaries and former members of the safety forces arising from the Troubles.

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The stays of an Army truck which caught the total drive of an IRA bomb at Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland, in 1979
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Image:

PA)



He informed the Commons it could “apply equally to all Troubles-related incidents”.

Mr Lewis added: “We know that the prospect of the end of criminal prosecutions will be difficult for some to accept and this is not a position we take lightly.

“But we’ve come to the view that this is the best and only way to facilitate an effective information retrieval and provision process, and the best way to help Northern Ireland move further along the road to reconciliation.

“It is in reality a painful recognition of the very reality of where we are.”

Ministers plan to introduce legislation “by the end of this autumn”, alongside proposals for an independent body to focus on the recovery and provision of information about Troubles-related deaths and most serious injuries.

All the province’s main political parties have hit out at the plans which they say amount to an amnesty for those accused of wrongdoing.

But, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson said: “”The people of Northern Ireland must, if we possibly can allow them to, move forwards now.”

Describing the proposals as “measured” and “balanced”, he added: “The sad fact remains that there are many members of the armed services who continue to face the threat of vexatious prosecutions well into their 70s, 80s and later, and we’re finally bringing forward a solution to this problem, to enable the province of Northern Ireland to draw a line under the Troubles, to enable the people of Northern Ireland to move forward.”

Labour blasted the move.

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh said: “Ministers seem to have concluded that the rule of legislation now not applies.

“An amnesty for the republican and loyalist terrorists who tortured, maimed, disappeared and murdered males, ladies, and kids.

“Addressing the toxic legacy of the past in this way, through unilateral imposition from Westminster, without the support of any political party in Northern Ireland, is foolish and unsustainable.”








Boris Johnson stated: “The people of Northern Ireland must, if we possibly can allow them to, move forwards now”
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Image:

REUTERS)



DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson informed MPs: “Victims will see these proposals as perpetrator-focused rather than victim-focused and an insult to both the memory of those innocent victims who lost their lives during our ‘Troubles’ and their families.”

Relatives of 9 males and a girl killed by troopers in Ballymurphy in 1971 criticised the plan.

Blasting the statute of limitations, the victims’ households stated in a press release: “We see this as the British Government’s cynical attempt to bring in an amnesty and a plan to bury its war crimes.”

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager Grainne Teggart said: “The UK Government is exhibiting an appalling and offensive disregard for victims – grossly dismissing their struggling and rights to reality, justice and accountability.”

Last month Mr Lewis and Irish international affairs minister Simon Coveney introduced “intensive engagement” by the British and Irish governments on legacy points.

Families of victims, political events and different stakeholders are to be concerned. Mr Lewis then stated the method will “build on and develop on the principle of the Stormont House Agreement”.

The 2014 pact proposed a Historical Investigations Unit to look at unsolved murders through the Troubles and an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval for households to study extra concerning the destiny of their family members.

Former head of the Army General Lord Dannatt described the Government’s plans as “the least worst solution” and ”welcomed” the transfer.

But he informed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is not the answer to everybody’s issues.








The legacy of the Troubles nonetheless lives on as we speak (file picture)
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Image:

Jeff J Mitchell)



“I name it the least worst resolution, however it does present a mechanism whereby investigations can proceed, questioning can proceed in order that households who lost family members through the Troubles get to know what occurred however with out the concern of prosecution being held above the heads of army veterans.”

He said he expects the Government’s command paper will set out what proportion of deaths in the Troubles were caused by terrorists and by the military.

Ireland’s former Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan wrote on Twitter : “Most unwelcome information from UK on legacy points.

“Unilateral departure from Stormont House Agreement undesirable and regrettable.

“Both Governments want to fulfill ASAP to debate additional.”





Irish international affairs minister Simon Coveney prompt the position may change later this year.

“This is UKG (UK Government) outlining its position,” he tweeted.

“Irish Government has very different view (Stormont House), as do Northern Ireland political parties and victims groups.

“The Northern Ireland Secretary and I’ve dedicated to an inclusive dialog to attempt to agree consensus and that is underway.”

Government sources have rejected claims it would effectively amount to an amnesty.

The plan is expected to include legislation which the Government wants to be passed by Parliament in the autumn.

More than 3,500 people died during the conflict, which stretched from the early 1970s to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in 1998, while tens of thousands more were left injured.





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