Northern Ireland news

Denis Bradley: Legacy commission should be chaired by a former US president or senior American figure

Denis Bradley, one of the authors of a major report into dealing with the legacy of the Troubles

A LEGACY commission should be chaired by a former US president or senior American figure, Denis Bradley has said as he hit out at the UK government's proposed Troubles amnesty.

Mr Bradley, one of the authors of a major report into dealing with the legacy of the Troubles, said he believed "someone who had the authority and the independence" was needed to head up a commission overseeing legacy issues.

He last night suggested former US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as possible candidates or Senator George Mitchell.

He said he believed the legacy process should be overseen by "people who are completely devoid of any bias within the situation" and that the three senior US figures would be "independent and neutral as well as possess the authority needed for such a role".

"They are all someone of stature, each one would bring authority and independence," he told The Irish News.

"It needs someone who has authority, that is independent and can't get pulled down too easy.

"Around theses islands, many people have too much baggage, and while former American presidents have baggage, they are somewhat removed from the situation here.

"The person would need to have power granted by the two governments.

"They would also need complete access to all material and information and should have a team behind them that would bring the expertise required, such as judges, police officers, barristers - people who are well versed on the issues here."

Earlier this month, the UK government confirmed it intends to bring forward legislation to ban all prosecutions related to the Troubles.

Boris Johnson said the legacy proposals would allow Northern Ireland to "draw a line under the Troubles".

The proposals included provisions for a statute of limitations, a legal mechanism which would bar future prosecutions of members of the security forces as well as ex-paramilitaries.

But Mr Bradley, who produced a report into dealing with legacy issues alongisde former Church of Ireland Primate Dr Robin Eames, criticised the plan "because of the bias of which they presented it".

He told the BBC yesterday that the UK and Irish governments were "tainted so badly" they needed to hand the process over to "an authoritative body which actually can bring this forward and bring it ultimately as much satisfaction as can be delivered".

Mr Bradley also called for victims to be given "complete access to all the files, all the records and all the people who are prepared to actually approach them and give whatever information they have".

He added: "The fact the British government didn't make that the primary issue in their presentation was a major, major blunder and a major mistake."

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