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British secrecy over Troubles is last obstacle to progress, says Martin McGuinness

By Noel McAdam

Published 25/04/2016

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

The Government is determined to conceal the role it played during the Troubles, Martin McGuinness told the Sinn Fein annual conference.

The Deputy First Minister said London’s insistence it cannot breach national security was the last obstacle remaining to an agreement to deal with the legacy of “the conflict”.

“The only blockage is the British Government’s veto on disclosure of information about the policies of the British State and its agencies,” he said.

“This British Government is determined to conceal its role in the conflict and the actions of its agents, agencies and their proxies in the loyalist death squads.”

The on-going issue was also referred to by party president Gerry Adams in his keynote address, and by several other speakers over the two-day event.

Mr Adams said the Government would have to honour international human rights obligations, and Dublin TD Mary Lou McDonald said “Tory refusals to reveal the truth on discovery, recovery and reconciliation are not acceptable”.

National chairperson Declan Kearney — a candidate for the Assembly election in South Antrim — said the blockage was “holding back the potential of the peace process from being realised”.

A new policy document endorsed by the delegates said London’s national security veto “relates to the disclosure of information to families which is core to both the investigative and informational recovery legacy mechanisms. Their stonewalling and obstructionist approach is a continuing violation of the rights of families seeking truth and justice”.

Mr McGuinness attacked the “relentless negativity” of the UUP and SDLP at Stormont, which he said remained unable to tell voters whether or not they will go into the next Executive or will form an Opposition.

He said the next Assembly term would be hugely important, and the aim was to build on the Fresh Start agreement reached with the DUP to “move beyond crisis and instability”.

Referring to the recent abortion pills controversy, the Foyle candidate also said: “The recent criminalisation of a young woman in the North was absolutely wrong. While I would caution against anyone using medication accessed on the internet, women facing difficult personal circumstances as a result of pregnancies must be treated with compassion and sympathy.

“And the law in the North must change to allow the option of termination in the traumatic circumstances of fatal foetal abnormalities and sexual crimes.”

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