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Nationalists slam peers' calls to focus on victims' compensation over probing the past

A group of Westminster peers believe probing past crimes such as Bloody Sunday should not be the focus of the legacy process

NATIONALISTS have criticised calls by a group of Westminster peers for legacy spending to focus on compensating victims rather than on historical investigations.

Eight members of the House of Lords, including four former secretaries of state, wrote to Karen Bradley saying the extensive resources dedicated to probing past offences have yielded only modest results.

Their response to the Northern Ireland Office's legacy consultation was co-ordinated by former Labour secretary of state Lord Peter Hain and was co-signed by his predecessor Lord Tom King, as well as counterparts Lord John Reid and Lord Paul Murphy.

The other signatories are former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Robin Eames, ex-Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Des Browne, one-time Northern Ireland Affairs Committee chairman Lord Cormack, and Lord Chris Patten, who oversaw police reform in the north.

The letter says it would be a "mistake" to expect a judicial outcome in "any but a tiny percentage of crimes that have not already been dealt with".

But Sinn Féin victims spokeswoman Linda Dillon said the peers' call for an emphasis on compensation over investigation missed the point "because victims are entitled to both".

"The families are not naive and have stated repeatedly that even where there is no expectation of prosecution the investigative process for them is as much about establishing the truth of how their loved ones died," she said.

Ms Dillon said the mechanisms in the Stormont House Agreement were "key to addressing the legacy of the conflict here and they must be implemented in a human rights compliant manner".

SDLP policing and justice spokeswoman Dolores Kelly said the two elements of the legacy process were not mutually exclusive.

"Victims are deserving of truth, justice and accountability – any proposal that undermines this is absolutely abhorrent and will not be countenanced by the SDLP," she said.

"Legacy is not an á la cart menu, where you can pick and choose what outcome suits you on any given day."

 

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