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Beattie accuses Sinn Fein of using Party Leaders’ Forum as ‘political prop’

It comes as the Stormont parties are united in opposition to Secretary of State Brandon Lewis’s proposals for dealing with the past.

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UUP leader Doug Beattie has criticised Sinn Fein (PA)

UUP leader Doug Beattie has criticised Sinn Fein (PA)

UUP leader Doug Beattie has criticised Sinn Fein (PA)

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has accused Sinn Fein of using the Party Leaders’ Forum as a “political prop”.

It comes as the parties are united in opposition to Secretary of State Brandon Lewis’s proposals to block Troubles prosecutions through a statute of limitations.

The forum is due to meet on Monday ahead of a recall of the Assembly on Tuesday to discuss the legacy proposals, which have also united victims groups in opposition.

However, Mr Beattie said he will not take part in any legacy discussions chaired by Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald.

Mr Beattie said his party is “committed to doing everything possible to ensure that innocent victims retain the right to pursue justice for their loved ones”.

“However, what I will not do in pursuit of that goal is give cover to Sinn Fein who are misrepresenting the role of the Party Leaders’ Forum as a political prop. I will not be attending discussions on legacy chaired by Sinn Fein.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It was Mary Lou McDonald who said that the IRA campaign was justified, without a thought for the thousands of victims created by the IRA terror machine.

“As I said before, we need to widen the lens of discussions on legacy and that includes focusing in on the role of terrorist organisations, including the IRA, and those who supported them.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson responded to Mr Beattie’s comments.

“The Party Leaders’ Forum meets monthly, and has done so routinely since it was established,” they said.

“The hosting and chairing rotates, and this month it is the turn of Sinn Fein. Mary Lou McDonald as President of Sinn Fein has notified the parties, invited issues for discussion on the agenda and she will chair the meeting.

“Sinn Fein have put legacy on the agenda given the huge hurt caused by the British Government to victims and survivors by their latest legacy proposals, which political leaders will want to discuss.”


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