Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past

Published date : 14 July, 2021
May I associate myself with your remarks before the statement, Mr Speaker, about the unfortunate way in which this information has entered the public domain? I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement, but we should not be reading these things on the BBC and RTÉ websites before we can discuss them in the House.

I acknowledge the untidy and imperfect nature of some of the compromises that have had to be made over the decades, first to achieve peace in Northern Ireland and then to maintain it. However, whatever merits in principle there might be in proposals surrounding aspects of truth, reconciliation and ensuring that the hidden truths of the troubles can at last be told while it is still possible, there remain huge concerns about the apparent lack of formal consultation and engagement on them.

Does the Secretary of State understand the huge concern, unease and upset that these proposals for a statute of limitations will cause, not just across Northern Ireland, but right across these islands? Will he acknowledge that unease and commit to engaging with victims’ groups and political leaders to discuss the way forward? Will he also think again about that statute of limitations and find a way to ensure, whatever final proposals he brings forward to the House, that where independent prosecutors consider that there is a sufficiency of evidence and a likelihood of successful conviction and, importantly, where they independently judge that it is in the public interest to bring forward a prosecution, they will still be able to do so?

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