UK to ban prosecutions for those accused of murders during unrest – reports
The Irish government is said to be very angered by reports that the UK was planning to ban prosecutions for all murders that occurred during the unrest.
These plans, reported by The Daily Telegraph and Time, will apply at all levels – so there will be no prosecution for British Army veterans, members of the IRA or members of loyalist paramilitary groups.
Legislation is reportedly being drafted to introduce a statute of limitations that would prohibit prosecution for any crime committed before 1998 – the signing of the Good Friday Agreement -.
It is understood that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will make the announcement in a speech next week. She had previously described attempts to prosecute British Army soldiers for alleged murders during the unrest as “vexatious”.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney met with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in Dublin yesterday, but it is understood that the planned announcement to ban the prosecution was not raised by Mr Lewis.
Mr Coveney and the Irish government knew the UK was considering such plans and had repeatedly spoken out against it, but were unaware that the legislation would be confirmed as going forward until reports were released. appeared in the media last night, according to RTÉ News.
A 2014 Stormont House deal, which garnered the support of all Irish, Northern Irish and UK governments, had proposed an independent historical investigative unit to examine all murders of unrest in which the perpetrators had not been brought to justice – the Irish government remains in favor of this, however, new UK legislation could see this scrapped.
The Irish government fears that the new legislation, and indeed any deviation from the promises made during the 2014 deal, could cause untold hurt and anger to families of all stripes who have lost loved ones over the course of the year. of the three decades of unrest.
The leader of Sinn Féin in the north and Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, said the bill was a “cynical move that will put British forces beyond the law”.
Reports that UK government must legislate amnesty for its state forces is another slap in the face
Another cynical move that will put the British forces beyond the law. It is legal protection for those involved in state murders.
This is unacceptable.
– Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 5, 2021
“This is legal protection for those involved in state killings,” she said. “This is unacceptable.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said if the reports were true it would be “the UK government’s biggest betrayal of victims and put a huge obstacle in the way of true reconciliation”.
If this is true, it will be the greatest betrayal of victims by the British government and will put a huge obstacle in the way of true reconciliation. It is the most unprincipled and cynical UK government in many years and that says something. An absolute shame. Shame on them. https://t.co/TplYc0Td5C
– Colum Eastwood (@columeastwood) May 5, 2021
He added: “It is the most unprincipled and cynical UK government in many years and that says something. An utter shame. Shame on them.”
Belfast MP Claire Hanna said: “No one wants to ‘move forward’ more than the victims and no party needs reconciliation more than the SDLP, but it does not ‘deal with the past’.
“It is abandoning the rule of law and agreed structures to bring people to truth and understanding. It serves the killers, the uniforms and the paramilitaries, not the victims.”