Northern Ireland news

Secretary of State urged to 'heed' Legacy Bill opposition during US visit

Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris will meet political and business stakeholders during his visit to the US. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

SECRETARY of State Chris Heaton-Harris "must heed the voices" of US stakeholders who stand opposed to the British government's controversial Legacy Bill during his stateside visit, it has been warned.

Mr Harris began a five-day visit to the US on Monday, during which he said he plans to discuss his ongoing attempts to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

He is due to visit Washington DC, Boston and New York, and among meetings to take place will be his first in-person with US Special Envoy to the north, Joe Kennedy III.

The Northern Ireland Office said Mr Harris will "highlight his efforts in securing functioning devolved institutions" at Stormont, and also discuss plans to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has urged Mr Harris to listen to those in the US administration opposed to the legacy bill which aims to bring an end to Troubles prosecutions, inquiries and inquests.

"The US has also been very clear in its strong opposition to the British government’s flawed Legacy Bill and its negative implications for victims and families and their right to truth and justice. That was reaffirmed in a letter to Rishi Sunak last week," Mr Murphy said.

He added that the NI secretary "must heed the voices of senior figures in the US, and right across Europe, urging his government to scrap the Legacy Bill".

Mr Harris said ahead of his trip he was "excited" to meet US stakeholders in-person.

"The US has been pivotal in supporting Northern Ireland. I greatly value our partnership and look forward to deepening our collaboration, especially in areas of trade and investment," he said.

"As the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement approaches, I look forward to discussing with US stakeholders the UK Government’s plans to mark this significant milestone. The US and UK share a commitment to upholding the Agreement and continuing to transform Northern Ireland for the better."

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