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Government rejects SF call to apologise over Troubles

By Allan Preston

The Government has said it refuses to be party to "any rewrite of history" after a Sinn Fein MLA said it should apologise for its role in the Troubles.

The comments came on the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Manchester bombing by the IRA in which a massive 3,000lb bomb injured 200 people in the city centre and caused £700m worth of damage.

Yesterday in a BBC interview, Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan said his party would be open to apologising for the terrorist attack if the British Government accepted it had a part to play in creating the Troubles.

Mr Sheehan said: "The IRA has apologised on numerous occasions for things it has done wrong, for killings of innocent people and so on. What we need to do is get into a process where every party and protagonist becomes accountable for their actions during the conflict."

He added: "That may mean an apology," but argued it would not be helpful unless both sides were willing to make concessions.

A Government spokeswoman responded by saying that it would "not forget the fact that around 90% of all deaths in the Troubles were caused by terrorists.

"Legislation will also state there will be no amnesties".

She added that talks would "continue with a view to providing better outcomes for victims and survivors in Northern Ireland and across the UK".

Council leaders in Manchester chose not to hold a civic commemoration to mark the 20th anniversary of the bomb yesterday, saying the city preferred not to "dwell on the events".

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