Belfast Telegraph

DUP rejects Troubles amnesty after outgoing chief constable says he could 'live with it'

Sir George Hamilton with his honorary degree.
Sir George Hamilton with his honorary degree.

The DUP have reiterated their opposition to any Troubles amnesty after outgoing PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton said he could "live with it".

Sir George was speaking at a question and answer session in Belfast after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Ulster.

He said that while he could "live with an amnesty", that he personally did not believe in it.

The BBC has reported that Sir George said "there cannot be different rules for different citizens".

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has backed calls for military veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict to be covered by an amnesty from prosecution.

Sir George said that Northern Ireland needed to "untangle" itself from Troubles legacy issues.

The Chief Constable will retire from his position later this month to be replaced by former Chief Constable of Cheshire Police Simon Byrne.

"Personally I don't believe in it (an amnesty), but I could live with it... that's part of living in a post-conflict society," he said.

DUP Policing Board member Mervyn Storey said his party would oppose the introduction of any amnesty "which would protect perpetrators of terrorist crimes".

"An amnesty would be a corruption of justice similar to the OTR letters and early prisoner releases," the North Antrim MLA said.

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey
DUP MLA Mervyn Storey

"We have always fought to ensure that those who lost loved ones continue to have a right and route to justice. It is clear that the current structures are failing innocent victims. This needs to change. The fact remains that 90% of deaths were perpetrated by terrorists."

Mr Storey said that while the DUP was supportive of veterans, any solution could not lead to a blanket amnesty.

"It is also vital that perceptions of witch-hunts against veterans who bravely defended the community in Northern Ireland are properly addressed," he said.

"Soldiers and police served professionally in very challenging circumstances and there is justifiable frustration at a grassroots level at the disproportionate focus on the actions of the state."

Meanwhile, UUP Justice spokesperson Doug Beattie called on the UK Government to publish the results of the legacy consultation process.

The legacy consultation outlined plans for a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) which would investigate over 1,700 unsolved murders from the conflict.

Doug Beattie
Doug Beattie

The plans also include the setting up of an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval which would only look for information on deaths if asked to do so by families.

Mr Beattie said Secretary of State Karen Bradley asked the parties about releasing the response to the consultation in May.

The Upper Bann MLA said that many thought that discussing the legacy issue in the middle of Stormont talks could "destabilize the process", though his party disagreed.

“The bottom line is that there is no ‘good time’ to deal with sensitive issues like legacy but we believe there is a duty on the NIO and the Secretary of State to release this consultation, and its factual contents, along with their proposed next step," he said.

"This should be done before we have a new Prime Minister and before the almost certain departure of the current Secretary of State. That was our advice to Karen Bradley MP and we ask the other parties to join us in lobbying for the release of the findings of the consultation process."

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