UK binning legacy mechanisms to cover up Troubles role, says Michelle O’Neill

ireland
Michelle O’Neill’s remarks were criticised by unionists. Photo: PA
Share this article

By David Young, PA

The British government’s determination to cover up its role in the Troubles has led to it binning agreed mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the past, Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister said the decision to refuse a public inquiry in the Pat Finucane case demonstrated the need to return to the arrangements agreed by the UK and Irish governments and a majority of Stormont’s main parties in 2014.

The Stormont House proposals included a new independent investigation unit to re-examine all unsolved killings and a separate truth recovery mechanism to enable families to gain answers in cases where prosecutions are unlikely.

In March, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced that the British government intended to move away from the Stormont House model.

Advertisement

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis. Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

He proposed that after a paper review exercise, most unsolved cases would be closed and a new law would be enacted to prevent the investigations from being reopened.

Ms O’Neill said: “I think we have to go back to the Stormont House Agreement.

“For the first time ever there was political agreement for how we actually move forward and how we deal with the legacy of the past. And the beauty of the Stormont House Agreement was that it offered many avenues for families to take in terms of what was important to them and what route they wanted to take in terms of their own family situation.

“The British government have reneged on the Stormont House Agreement, the British government are attempting to throw the Stormont House Agreement in the bin. And you have to ask yourself the question, why?

It goes right to the very core and the very heart of just how far the British Government are prepared to go to cover up their role, including with loyalist death squads in the murder of Irish citizens

“The way is very evident to me – it’s because of the kickback that they’re receiving from both British soldiers and RUC officers around the fact that their role will be exposed whenever the truth is unveiled for all to see.”

Advertisement

The Sinn Féin vice president again criticised the decision not to order a public inquiry in the Finucane case.

“It goes right to the very core and the very heart of just how far the British government are prepared to go to cover up their role colluding with loyalist death squads in the murder of Irish citizens,” she said.

Ms O’Neill’s remarks were criticised by Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, who is a vocal critic of the Stormont House model.

Doug Beattie. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

“Michelle O’Neill's latest comments about the need for the UK government to implement the Stormont House Agreement legacy arrangements ignore reality,” he said.

“Sinn Féin need to accept that in terms of legacy the Stormont House Agreement has failed, and it has failed because it wasn’t victim-centred.

Ireland
UK Government not ordering public inquiry into Pat...
Read More

“Despite what Sinn Féin says, a huge swathe of victims don't support the Stormont House Agreement legacy arrangements.

“90 per cent of all those killed during the Troubles were killed by terrorists, not the state. The Stormont House legacy arrangements effectively ignored and sidelined them and that was made very clear by the Ulster Unionist Party and in thousands of responses to the public consultation process.

“The cheerleaders for these proposals – and not just Sinn Féin – need to get real. Whilst they continue to attempt to freeze out victims of terrorism, the reality is that there will be no agreement on a way forward.”

Read More

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© BreakingNews.ie 2021, developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com