Ireland

UK Government ‘determined’ to pass Legacy Bill despite peers’ intervention

The Northern Ireland Office said the legislation remained the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles (Claudia Savage/PA)
The Northern Ireland Office said the legislation remained the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles (Claudia Savage/PA) The Northern Ireland Office said the legislation remained the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles (Claudia Savage/PA)

The UK Government “remains determined” to pass its controversial Legacy legislation despite a significant element of the Bill being removed in the House of Lords, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office has said.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill proposed offering immunity from prosecution to those who committed crimes during the Troubles, if they co-operated with a truth-recovery body.

The legislation would also stop new inquests and civil cases taking place.

The House of Lords on Monday supported by 197 votes to 185, majority 12, a demand to remove the contentious immunity provision.

Removing this element of the Bill was led by Labour former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Murphy of Torfaen, who said the Bill was “almost universally condemned”.

Victims groups, the main Stormont political parties and the Irish government have all expressed their opposition to the Bill.

Speaking on Tuesday, a Northern Ireland Office spokesperson said the legislation remained the best way to deliver for victims of the Troubles.

“The UK Government remains determined, through the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) Bill, to deliver better outcomes for those most affected by the Troubles, and we maintain that this legislation is the best way of doing that,” they said.

“We acknowledge that this Bill contains uncomfortable and finely balanced choices, but we have to be realistic about what we can best deliver for families over a quarter-of-a-century after the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“The Government will continue to engage on the Bill as it progresses through its final parliamentary stages.”

The House of Lords did agree to some of the Government amendments, including shifting the date by which inquests needed to have concluded to May 1 2024.

The Legacy Bill will now return to the House of Commons where further changes, including reinstating the immunity provision, may be made by MPs.

Recent protests against the Legacy Bill have called on the Irish government to take an interstate case against the UK to the international court of the Council of Europe should the Bill pass, which Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said he would consider.