Northern Ireland news

Peter Mandelson: British government's Troubles amnesty plans should not be dismissed

Former Secretary of State Peter Mandelson. Picture by Alastair Grant, Press Association

The British government's plans for a Troubles amnesty should not be dismissed, former Secretary of State Peter Mandelson has said.

The former Labour minister, who was a senior member of Tony Blair's government, said the main Stormont parties' opposition to the plans was "unfair".

Under proposals announced last week, Troubles-related prosecutions will end.

The plans also involve a halt on Troubles-related inquests and the potential for recourse through the civil courts.

Writing in the Independent, Mr Mandelson said while Boris Johnson's claim that the plans will 'draw a line' under the Troubles was "crassly" unhelpful, plans for an information retrieval body were positive.

Mr Mandelson said the government was "not proposing to do nothing about the past".

"It is proposing to create a new body that will retrieve and publish all available information about those responsible for the atrocities committed," he said.

"The success of its proposals, however, will hinge fundamentally on the independence, funding and remit of this information retrieval body. It has to be fearless in its approach."

"It could not equivocate when it established reasonable accounts of what happened. It would have to publish and be damned," he said.

Mr Mandelson was Secretary of State between October 1999 and January 2001.

Mr Mandelson suggested that the information retrieval body could help the families of loved ones killed by paramilitaries.

He said some people "associated with the paramilitary organisations might prefer the tiny risk of prosecution to the greater likelihood of revelation by a new body dedicated to exposing the truth, and I do not believe they should receive this comfort".

"This alone makes it desirable to take the government’s proposals seriously rather than simply dismiss them, as happened last week," he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news