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For once main parties are united in their criticism of Attorney General

By Rebecca Black

Political parties across the board have opposed what some have termed an attempt by the Attorney General to "sweep the past under the carpet".

Only Northern Ireland's newest political party, NI21, welcomed John Larkin's call for an end to all prosecutions, inquests and public inquiries linked to the Troubles.

Even Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds were singing from the same hymn sheet in their opposition to Mr Larkin's proposals, although for different reasons.

Mr Dodds strongly opposed what he termed was "an effective amnesty for those who engaged in terrorism before 1998".

"This proposal, would deprive innocent victims of the right to justice," he said. "One of the core and founding principles of the DUP is that everyone should be equally subject to the law and equally treated under it," he added. "The AG's idea runs contrary to that principle and does not command any significant level of support within the community."

Mr Adams also opposed the Attorney General's suggestion and added that he felt there was currently an amnesty for soldiers.

"To all intents and purposes there is an amnesty for the British State forces and their allies," he said. "Sinn Fein has proposed an independent international truth recovery process. It is our view this approach offers the best way forward for victims and survivors." Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said his phone has been "red hot" with victims expressing their hurt at the proposal.

"I am shocked at the lack of consultation particularly with victims, never mind the Executive," he said. "I can't believe he didn't understand the hurt and pain he would cause amongst victims."

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness said the suggestion would be a "dramatic policy change" and a "cause of real concern for the SDLP". "This would amount to a blanket amnesty and the SDLP do not believe that this would be acceptable," he added.

Alliance justice spokesman Stewart Dickson accused the Attorney General of making an attempt to "sweep the past under the carpet".

NI21 are the only party to support the Attorney General. Leader Basil McCrea said his party believes victims deserve all the individual support the State can offer.

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