The Government has pledged to “end the cycle of re-investigations” in a set of proposals to deal with Northern Ireland’s troubled past.
Once cases have been considered, there will be a legal bar on any future investigation occurring, under the new proposals.
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said ending repeated re-investigations, where there is no new compelling evidence, will deliver on his Government’s promise to protect former soldiers from “vexatious claims”.
The suite of proposals come after the Government promised to deliver a way forward on legacy matters within 100 days of the New Decade New Approach deal.
They include a pledge to ensure Northern Ireland veterans receive equal treatment to their counterparts who served overseas.
The proposals also include a “new independent body” to provide information to families and “swift examinations” of all unresolved deaths from the Troubles.
Pleased to set out today a new way forward for legacy of the past in Northern Ireland which puts reconciliation for victims first and ensures equal treatment of UK veterans who served during the Troubles as those who served overseas.— Brandon Lewis #StayHomeSaveLives (@BrandonLewis) March 18, 2020
Only cases where there is “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution” will be investigated.
Meanwhile, once cases have been considered, there will be a legal bar on any future investigation occurring.
The package also proposes a central resource to be created to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles.
Mr Lewis said victims have been at the heart of the Government approach to “help the region move on to a brighter future”.
He added: “I hope that by giving as many families as possible information on how their loved ones lost their lives, we can help ease the difficult process of reconciliation.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our Armed Forces for their service in Northern Ireland.
“That’s why these proposals also put an end to repeated re-investigations where there is no new compelling evidence and deliver on our promise to protect veterans from vexatious claims.”
The Government will now begin engagement with the Northern Ireland political parties, and the Irish Government, to discuss the proposals in detail.