Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire rules out publishing deal on past unless DUP and SF agree

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said there is no point publishing proposals on dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland's past, unless there is broad political consensus.

In an interview with the BBC, the conservative government minister said agreement was needed between the DUP and Sinn Fein to avoid a "roadblock" when the proposals are put out to public consultation.

"I want to get this right. I think we've got one chance, one shot to get this right, and that's where my focus lies," he said.

Last year's Fresh Start agreement set out a deadline for proposals to establish bodies to investigate and gather information on killings during the Troubles. However, it has passed without movement.

Mr Brokenshire has said getting a deal is a priority.

"I think it's important that there is that broad political consensus to ensure that when we move to a public phase, we don't suddenly see that hitting an immediate roadblock," he said.

"I have that duty to come forward with proposals that I have confidence command broad political support in order to have effect.

"No-one will thank me for coming forward with something that simply then would be stopped in its tracks at that first phase."

One of the main stumbling blocks over getting agreement is the matter of national security.

"I hold my duties very clearly in relation to national security, on protecting the public here in Northern Ireland here and now, and I feel that very keenly," he said.

"National security is used for that purpose. It is not about some sort of mechanism of hiding embarrassment. I'm very clear on that, in the way it is used."

The DUP and Sinn Fein insist that reaching an agreement on how to deal with the past is also a priority for them.

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