UK government ends prosecution for Troubles murders
A plan by the UK government to end all murder prosecutions during the unrest in Northern Ireland is expected to be officially confirmed today.
Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis will bring forward proposals to address legacy issues in a statement in the House of Commons.
It is expected to confirm the British government’s intention to introduce a statute of limitations in the fall.
The statute would end prosecution for the murders of the Troubles until the signing of the Good Friday Accord in April 1998. Critics have said such a decision would amount to an amnesty.
The move would prevent any further criminal investigation into murders committed by former British soldiers, police officers and members of the British military intelligence service.
This would also apply to murders committed by the IRA, the Ulster Defense Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force and other Republican and loyalist paramilitary organizations.
The Irish government, the five parties that make up Stormont’s executive and victims’ groups have all said they oppose such a move.
The proposal was first raised in May, just days before a Belfast coroner ruled that 10 Catholic civilians shot dead by members of the British Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in August 1971 were completely innocent and their murders unwarranted.
A number of UK newspapers have been told that a ban on prosecution of military veterans is about to be introduced.
In response, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said any unilateral action by the UK government to end the prosecution would constitute “a breach of trust” and “a betrayal of the victims”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the government was “very alarmed and deeply disturbed” by the information.
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has also said on several occasions that the government will oppose any unilateral action.
Brandon Lewis’s statement comes nearly three weeks after the Irish and UK governments announced “short and focused” talks with Northern Ireland’s political parties and victims and survivors of the unrest.
The talks were jointly announced by Minister Coveney and the Secretary of the North after a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference at Dublin Castle last month.
The stated goal was to find “an agreed way forward” on how best to deal with inheritance issues.
Mr Coveney said the talks would be “open” and would have “no predetermined results”.
But there was only one meeting, co-chaired by senior officials from the Northern Ireland office and the Irish government. A second meeting was due to take place this morning, but was canceled.
A series of high profile political sources in Northern Ireland say they believe the UK government has made up its mind on the matter and “tell us, don’t ask us what is the best way forward”.
“They might hear the words being spoken, but I don’t think they’re listening to a single word,” said another.
“They have made it very clear over the past few weeks which direction of travel is preferred and they seem determined to follow it.”
The Irish government has made it clear that it believes the process of consultation and engagement with Stormont’s political parties and victim and survivor groups should continue, and that the UK government should not take any final decisions on this. Stadium.