Northern Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald says Dublin needs to step up opposition to British government's Troubles amnesty plans

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald at Leinster House. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald at Leinster House. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

DUBLIN needs to step up its opposition to the British government's planned amnesty for Troubles-era prosecutions, the Sinn Féin president has said.

Mary Lou McDonald called on the Irish government to set out how it will respond if London proceeds with proposals to end legal cases relating to the conflict.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced in July plans for a statute of limitations that would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

The planned legislation, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would "draw a line under the Troubles", would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions.

Ms McDonald said no political party in Ireland supported the proposal.

She said there was a need for the Irish government to "step up actions and to be consistently and publicly vocal".

The Sinn Féin leader described the plans as "outrageous" and said they were designed to protect British state actors.

"The proposal for a general amnesty for British state actors - and the amnesty is for their soldiers and for their proxies - that is outrageous," she said.

"It has no support on the island of Ireland. It has been criticised internationally."

Ms McDonald also criticised London for efforts to abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol.

She said the UK's position on the issue had been damaging for them internationally.

"The United States has made clear there won't be a trade agreement if the protocol is shredded, and if there is damage to the Good Friday Agreement," she said.

"I think that's pretty clear. In fairness, the US administration and across the aisle of US politics, there has been a clarity of message that there can't be damage to the Good Friday Agreement and the protocol has to be delivered.

"I think that would be most unwise on their part. I think the idea that, you know, Britannia waives the rules, this kind of machismo that comes from the Johnson administration is deeply misguided.

"I don't think it's well received internationally.

"I think the British government and system needs to understand, when it comes to Irish interests, we have an agreement.

"We have international law on our side when we argue for the protections that we're entitled to.

"The sensible, the smart, and the honourable thing is to keep your word.

"To abide by the agreements that you've signed off on, and not to endlessly create uncertainty and anxiety, which has consequences for everyone, not least very, very serious economic consequences."