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Arlene Foster: We cannot draw line under Troubles

Northern Ireland's First Minister has insisted a line cannot be drawn under the region's troubled past.

Arlene Foster acknowledged that not all victims of the Troubles were seeking justice, but she said those who were needed support.

The DUP leader made the remarks in the Stormont Assembly amid intense ongoing public debate on how best to address the toxic legacy of the conflict.

The police are continuing to sift through thousands of unsolved murder cases and a new independent investigatory unit has been proposed, even though it has not yet been established due to a political dispute.

Earlier this month Northern Ireland's chief constable George Hamilton said he would support a debate on the idea of drawing a line under what happened in the Troubles.

Mrs Foster was asked about Mr Hamilton's comments during Assembly question time.

While not specifically referring to the police chief in her response, the DUP leader said: "I think we all, when we make comments about the past, need to be very careful that we are not adding to the trauma that people live with on a day to day basis."

She added: "I certainly don't agree that a line should be drawn under the past. I think we have to deal with the issues."

Mrs Foster said some victims wanted truth, others wanted justice and others "simply want it all to go away".

"But for those who want to search and continue to search for justice we must continue to support them," she said.

Last week Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers claimed a "pernicious and distorted counter-narrative" was being peddled by some in the region that placed disproportionate responsibility for the Troubles on the shoulders of the State.

Commenting on a series of controversies related to alleged security force misconduct and collusion, Ms Villiers stressed that 90% of the 3,500 Troubles killings were committed by paramilitaries.

During Stormont question time on Monday, Mrs Foster echoed the Tory MP's remarks.

"I think there have been attempts over this past couple of months in particular, if not years, to try to rewrite what has happened here over this past 35 to 40 years," she said.

"It's important that the facts remain and the facts are that 90% of those who were murdered in Northern Ireland were murdered by organisations which were terrorist organisations.

"It wasn't the State which caused those terrible deaths. I think it's important that we remember that when we are having a narrative about what happened in the past.

"As far as I am concerned there will be no amnesty, no re-writing of the past and we will support victims in their search for justice."

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