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Brandon Lewis faces calls to apologise to Troubles victims

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis .

CALLS were made last night for Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to apologise after claiming the delay on legacy issues was linked to a victims group "pausing" engagement.

Wave, which provides support to Troubles victims and survivors, strenuously denied they asked for suspension of talks on a new legacy plan and accused Mr Lewis of "scapegoating" them over his own "inaction".

"At no stage did we even remotely suggest that," a spokesman said.

SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said Mr Lewis' remarks caused "immense hurt" and must be addressed immediately.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Lewis said: "It was actually the Wave group back in March who asked us to pause the engagement as they were focused, and their members were focused, on Covid, which I think was a reasonable position."

Mr Eastwood said the British government's attitude to victims was "unacceptable"

"The Secretary of State has added insult to injury by blaming those who have lost the most for his failure to advance legacy," he said.

“I have met with WAVE on a number of occasions. Their dignity and integrity is beyond question. The Secretary of State needs to explain, therefore, why they have had to dispute his claim that they asked for the legacy engagement process to be paused during the Covid-19 crisis. It is incredibly low for a senior British Cabinet Minister to seek to blame victims for his own failings.

“The very least the Secretary of State can do is apologise for the immense hurt that he has caused and explain what led to this statement."

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