Northern Ireland news

Anger at British government plans on amnesty and protocol

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Picture by Rob Pinney/PA Wire
Connla Young

THERE has been widespread anger at British government plans to override parts of the protocol and offer an effective amnesty from Troubles prosecutions.

Legislation was set out yesterday which could mean no prosecutions in more than 1,000 unsolved murders.

It immediately sparked criticism from those who have previously accused the UK government of wanting an "amnesty" for those responsible for killings during the Troubles.

Under the plan individuals who cooperate with a new truth recovery mechanism would be granted immunity from future prosecution.

Grieving families last night said they were bitterly opposed to the plans, including Christine Duffy, whose 15-year-old brother Seamus was the last person killed by a plastic bullet in the north in 1989.

She vowed "we will not let them get away with it... we will keep fighting until we get truth and justice".

The British government yesterday also set out its intention to introduce a law unilaterally changing the Northern Ireland Protocol if negotiations with the EU fail.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said legislation will be brought forward within weeks to overwrite parts of the post-Brexit deal, freeing goods destined to stay within the UK from EU checks.

She said the government wanted to end "unnecessary bureaucracy" which had been added to the movement of some goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill warned that it puts the north in a "very dangerous place".

"The behaviour of the British government and Boris Johnson in terms of initiating again legislation to override an international agreement does not bode well for a good faith negotiation and I think that puts us in jeopardy in terms of the uncertainty and instability that it provides for us here," she said.

The Republic's foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney also said he "deeply regrets" the British government's decision and such unilateral action "is damaging to trust".

He said it will only "make it more challenging to find solutions to the genuine concerns" that people have about how protocol is working

But DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who has blocked the sitting of the assembly and formation of an executive in protest at the protocol. said the legislation was a "welcome if overdue step" towards solving the crisis.

"We want to see the Irish Sea border removed and the government honouring its commitment in the New Decade, New Approach agreement to protect Northern Ireland's place in the UK internal market," he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news