Belfast Telegraph

British trying to cover up state killings, Sinn Fein manifesto claims

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson, Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy at yesterday's manifesto launch
Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson, Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy at yesterday's manifesto launch

By Michael McHugh

The British Government is trying to "cover up" its role in state killings, Sinn Fein has claimed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley is considering the shape of new structures investigating the toxic legacy of unresolved deaths during the 30-year conflict.

Some MPs and veterans have pressed for a statute of limitations which would protect former soldiers from prosecution.

Mrs Bradley has said she does not support the measure and it was omitted from her recent consultation on addressing the past.

Sinn Fein's local government election manifesto said: "The British Government has sought to cover up its role in the deaths of many Irish citizens and is seeking to introduce an amnesty for those it directed to carry out such killings.

"Sinn Fein will continue to oppose the British Government's policy on this issue and demand that the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House are implemented in a human rights-compliant manner."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure members of the Armed Forces are not treated unfairly.

He pledged the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues and said serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.

One former serviceman, Soldier F, is to be prosecuted following the deaths of civil rights protesters shot in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

On Friday thousands of motor bikers demonstrated outside Parliament against the legal action and urged the Government to step in to protect veterans from prosecution.

A statute of limitations is backed by many Conservative backbenchers, including some who are former soldiers. Many unionists in Northern Ireland however have expressed concern it could lead to an amnesty for former republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Sinn Fein launched its manifesto for next month's local council elections in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

It focused on familiar themes like the "political vandalism" of Brexit, Tory austerity and the need to prepare for a United Ireland. Leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "Brexit has added to uncertainty and instability.

"Under the Tory and DUP pact, funding for health and public services isn't even enough to stand still and now they seek to impose Brexit against the will of the people. This is an unprecedented act of political vandalism. This election is an opportunity to say time is up on Brexit, time is up on the DUP/Tory cuts."

Sinn Fein is standing 400 candidates across Ireland in the local government elections, including 155 in Northern Ireland.

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