Northern Ireland news

British government legacy legislation not expected until the summer

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer
Connla Young

CONTROVERSIAL plans by the British government to introduce a Troubles amnesty could be postponed until the summer.

Under the proposals revealed by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis last summer, Westminster officials intend to introduce a statute of limitations, a de-facto amnesty, for Troubles-related incidents.

It also plans to end conflict-related civil proceedings and inquests.

Legislation had been expected before Christmas but this date has slipped.

It has now been reported that the contentious bill may not become law until the summer or late spring.

The proposals have been met wit cross-community opposition.

Stormont justice minister Naomi Long last year said the plans will "rob people of any hope of justice".

It is expected that MPs will raise an adjournment debate about the issue today initiated by former veterans minister and Conservative MP Johnny Mercer.

He has challenged suggestions by Mr Lewis that there are no alternatives to the proposals set out by his government.

"Even a cursory glance would show you there are many alternatives to his approach, many actors trying to influence his thinking," Mr Mercer told PoliticsHome.

"He may choose not to listen – that is his prerogative, but that’s a different thing from saying there are no alternatives."

A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office said: "The government is absolutely committed to addressing legacy issues comprehensively and fairly.

"This will include measures that focus on information recovery, so that families can know what happened to their loved ones, and which promote reconciliation, so all communities in Northern Ireland can move forward.

"The government remains committed to introducing legislation as soon as possible."

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