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Victims group hits out at DUP/Tory deal on legacy amid fears of side deals

Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre
Brendan Hughes

A VICTIMS group has hit out at how legacy matters are referred to in the Tory deal with the DUP amid growing concerns of "side deals" on Troubles issues.

The section on legacy matters praises the "courage and sacrifice of the police and armed forces" and says legacy bodies should "not unfairly focus" on them.

The deal, announced on Monday, was made with the DUP to support a minority Tory government following the Westminster election earlier this month.

It says that the British government will work with the Northern Ireland executive and all parties to implement the Stormont House Agreement to "provide better outcomes for victims and survivors".

The document says that Stormont House legacy bodies are to "operate in ways that are fair, balanced and proportionate and which do not unfairly focus on former members of the armed forces or police".

It adds: "Both parties reiterate their admiration for the courage and sacrifice of the police and armed forces in upholding democracy and the rule of law and will never forget the debt of gratitude we owe them."

Paul O'Connor, director of the Pat Finucane Centre, expressed concern about the wording of the statement.

"We have always believed that there should be an independent investigation process available to all families regardless of who was responsible for a death," he said.

"The statement that has been issued demonstrates that the British Government feels that they owe no debt whatsoever to the bereaved due to the actions of the British Army and RUC.

"This is no particular surprise."

Speaking earlier Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy warned there could be "no side deals" on legacy.

He insisted his party remained "resolutely opposed" to any suggestion of immunity to British state forces.

At an event in London Mr Molloy said: "There can be no side deals on the legacy of the conflict.

"As a party, Sinn Féin remains committed to the legacy mechanisms agreed to at Stormont House and we are resolutely opposed to any suggestion of immunity to British state forces who tortured or murdered Irish citizens."

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