Amnesty can’t proceed—Labor

Posted By: January 07, 2022

James Ward. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, January 7, 2022

PLANS to introduce an amnesty on Troubles-era prosecutions have not gathered enough support to “proceed legitimately, ”Labour has told the government.

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Kyle has written to his counterpart, Brandon Lewis, calling on him to abandon the proposals and find a new way of dealing with legacy issues.

Mr. Kyle said the current course of action “provides a clear benefit to those who committed acts of terror but none whatsoever to those who suffered at their hands.”

His intervention came following a visit to Belfast, his first as shadow secretary, where he met victims of Troubles violence.

In the letter, seen by the PA news agency, Mr. Kyle told Mr. Lewis that the plans were “wrong,” “provoking distress” and do not have “even minority support” in Northern Ireland.

He wrote: “Finding ways for Northern Ireland to resolve outstanding legacy issues from the Troubles is a long-running and prominent political challenge.

“It is wholly correct that you as Secretary of State should use your position to seek progress in this area.

“It is crystal clear, however, that your current proposals have failed to garner enough support within Northern Ireland and our international partners to proceed legitimately.

“There is not even minority support from Northern Ireland residents, political parties, human rights organizations, or victims’ groups for your proposals.”

In July last year, the government published a command paper outlining its intention to prohibit future prosecutions of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for Troubles incidents pre-dating April 1998.

The proposals, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles,” would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions.

The proposals are opposed by all the main parties at Stormont, the Dublin government, and many victims’ groups.

Mr. Kyle outlined the strong opposition to the proposals among the victims he met in Belfast.

“All, to a person, felt that a general amnesty delivered via Westminster without meaningful consultation from victims was wrong and is provoking distress,” he said.

“I met one innocent man who was shot six times and left for dead simply for living next door to someone being targeted.

“He had one interview with police from his hospital bed but has heard nothing in the decades that followed.”