Northern Ireland news

Controversial legacy legislation to end Troubles prosecutions 'imminent' following Stormont talks

Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney has described the British government's position on legacy issues as "absolutely egregious". Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

THE British government has given its "clearest signal yet" that legislation to bring an end to Troubles prosecutions will be introduced "imminently", following roundtable talks on legacy at Stormont.

The discussion involving local parties, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and the Republic's foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney saw attendees told there was "universal opposition" to the controversial plans, that were unveiled earlier this year by Mr Lewis.

The plans will see an end to all prosecutions linked to the conflict - including those of members of the security forces - along with inquests and other legacy inquiries.

Following the meeting, Sinn Féin Executive Office junior minister Declan Kearney said: "Today's meeting is the clearest signal yet that the British government intends to proceed with the drafting and enacting of legislation to provide amnesty for its state forces and their activities and their agents here in the north.

"That is an absolutely egregious position for the British government to adopt."

He added that the proposals would "shoot down any avenue available to victims and survivors in this society to secure truth and justice".

Meanwhile, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said afterwards that the plans were "not just opposed by every political party in Northern Ireland but the Commission for Victims and Survivors survey showed overwhelming opposition also from victims themselves".

He added: "If we are to have a truly victim-focused process then the views of those victims must be put front and centre."

Mr Donaldson said he also raised the issue of "attempts by the Irish Government to evade their responsibility" for Irish state actions during the Troubles with Mr Coveney.

"We need to see specific proposals from them on how they will deal with legacy cases and offer the prospect of justice to victims," he said.

"Whilst many victims know that the passage of time makes securing justice difficult, that does not mean that the prospect of securing such closure should be removed. Attempts to somehow sweep what happened during the Troubles under the carpet are not only hurtful to victims, but they will also be harmful the prospect of encouraging reconciliation and building a more peaceful Northern Ireland."

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