UK Government proposals on legacy are an assault on the rule of law and human rights, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP has said.
Dr Farry was speaking as the Secretary of State announced the statute of limitations, designed to end all prosecutions for Troubles-related cases pre-1998. The North Down MP said it was an “insult to victims from all backgrounds”.
“The UK Government has unilaterally abandoned the Stormont House Agreement, something agreed by two Governments and most local parties,” he said.
“This approach is framed solely around the perceived need to address what is a false narrative of vexatious investigations of army veterans. It is shocking the Government facilitates a de facto amnesty across the board, including for republican and loyalist terrorists, to achieve this.
“Everyone should be and remain equal before the law. That is what we have when lawbreakers are pursued regardless of where they come from. The Government’s approach now brings the consequence of a false equivalence between all veterans, most of whom served the community with honour and respect for rule of law, and terrorists.
“While the Government will try to dress this up as Stormont House minus prosecutions, in reality, their proposals rip the heart out of that comprehensive approach. Investigations are not just about prosecutions, but rather the option of prosecutions, which provide a discipline to interrogate evidence, whereas a truth or information recovery process can end up becoming self-serving and selective for those coming forward.
“If the Government seeks to impose this approach over the heads of Northern Ireland political parties and victims’ groups, it will have no legitimacy and credibility. Inevitably, the mechanisms will be struck down in the courts as not being compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The court of public opinion has already dismissed these proposals. Alliance will fight them through Parliament and elsewhere.”