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Government to reveal plan to deal with Northern Ireland’s past

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is to deliver a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon.

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Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is set to outline the government’s approach on dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is set to outline the government’s approach on dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is set to outline the government’s approach on dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Northern Ireland Secretary will later announce a way forward on dealing with the legacy of the region’s troubled past.

The approach, to be outlined by Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, is expected to include a statute of limitations ending all prosecutions related to the Troubles before 1998.

The approach has been slammed by political parties and victims groups as a “de facto amnesty” for both veterans and former paramilitaries.

White-line picket protests took place last weekend against an amnesty.

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Members of the Time For Truth campaign taking part in a white line picket on Andersonstown Road in Belfast last weekend (Time for Truth/PA)

Members of the Time For Truth campaign taking part in a white line picket on Andersonstown Road in Belfast last weekend (Time for Truth/PA)

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Members of the Time For Truth campaign taking part in a white line picket on Andersonstown Road in Belfast last weekend (Time for Truth/PA)

Government sources have rejected claims it would effectively amount to an amnesty.

The plan is expected to include legislation which the Government wants to be passed by Parliament in the autumn.

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More than 3,500 people died during the conflict, which stretched from the early 1970s to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in 1998, while tens of thousands more were left injured.

Last month, Mr Lewis and Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney announced “intensive engagement” by the two governments on legacy.

Families of victims, political parties and other stakeholders will be involved.

Mr Lewis then said the process will “build on and develop on the principle of the Stormont House Agreement”.

In 2014, the Stormont House Agreement proposed a Historical Investigations Unit to examine unsolved murders during the Troubles and an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval for families to learn more about the fate of their loved ones.

None of the proposals were implemented.

Bereaved families have been seeking answers about what happened to their loved one by pursuing fresh inquests, while a number of cases are being examined by former Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Coveney said the UK proposal to end prosecutions was not a “fait accompli”.

“This is UKG (UK Government) outlining its position,” he tweeted.

“Irish Government has very different view (Stormont House), as do Northern Ireland political parties and victims groups.

“The Northern Ireland Secretary and I have committed to an inclusive dialog to try to agree consensus and that’s underway.”

Ireland’s former Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan wrote on Twitter: “Most unwelcome news from UK on legacy issues.

“Unilateral departure from Stormont House Agreement undesirable and regrettable.

“Both Governments need to meet ASAP to discuss further.”


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