Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin rejects Foster call to revisit Troubles legacy issues

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

SINN Féin's Michelle O'Neill last night rejected calls from Arlene Foster to revisit the Troubles legacy provisions in the Stormont House Agreement.

It came after it emerged the DUP leader had written to secretary of state Julian Smith to express concerns around certain provisions in the 2014 agreement, including the establishment of a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to re-examine unsolved murders.

Recently, as part of the deal which saw the return of Stormont, the British government pledged, within 100 days, to introduce legislation to implement a legacy deal.

It includes a HIU to look into Troubles killings.

But in her letter Mrs Foster wrote that in the five years since the agreement was signed "things have evolved" and "issues must now be addressed in light of the passage of time".

She said "substantive discussions" were needed on the way forward, with concerns the HIU "has led to many victims and survivors of terrorism losing confidence or not being supportive".

Speaking yesterday on Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mrs Foster said "it's important that we look at all of the consultation responses that came in from various victims' groups to see what they want".

Read More: Arlene Foster insists DUP was unaware of inquest funding deal

"I think we need to revisit the Stormont House Agreement because what is being proposed, and we made this clear in our consultation response at the time, is not acceptable to the victims' groups here and it's certainly not acceptable to us," she said.

But Ms O'Neill said the "agreement must be implemented in full, including the mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the conflict, and cannot be cherry picked by the British government or the DUP".

"The British government has been resiling from the commitments it made at Stormont House and has delayed implementing the agreement for more than five years, further delaying truth and justice to the victims and their families," she said.

"That is unacceptable."

She has requested a meeting with Mr Smith amid "serious concerns about proposed legislation on victims’ pensions and continued attempts to put British soldiers who murdered Irish citizens above the law".

"The British government appears intent on excluding large sections of our society from accessing pensions and support," she said.

Meanwhile during yesterday's Sky News interview, Mrs Foster called on Boris Johnson to protect security force members living in Northern Ireland from "vexatious claims".

Asked about Brexit, the DUP leader expressed concern about checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland.

"We have left the European Union, but unfortunately for those of us who live in Northern Ireland we are going to be still the subject to single market regulations and it's important for us to get clarity on what that actually means for us in Northern Ireland, in relation to future trade deals and indeed what's going to happen when goods are coming from Great Britain into Northern Ireland," she said.

A Stormont Brexit sub-committee is expected to be established today and meet later this week. It will carry out an assessment of the impact of Brexit on the Stormont institutions.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access

Northern Ireland news