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Irish government must be held accountable for ‘hiding terrorists’ – Ian Paisley Jr


Ian Paisley MP

Ian Paisley MP

Ian Paisley MP

Ian Paisley Jr has said the Irish government must be “held accountable for hiding terrorists” during a debate held in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

MPs gathered for the second reading of the bill on Tuesday afternoon.

It proposes replacing police investigations and court cases with an information recovery body which would offer immunity to those who co-operate with reports for victims' families.

All five main political parties in Northern Ireland have criticised the legislation, as have the Irish government and victims' organisations.

However, it has got the backing of military veterans and their supporters.

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Mr Paisley said that the Irish government should be “held accountable” for their actions.

“In the Northern Ireland affairs select committee we have heard evidence that hundreds of people were murdered along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where those terrorists then fled for sanctuary to the safety of the Republic of Ireland and stayed there,” he said.

“What assistance, if any, has been given by the Republic of Ireland, or will any evidence that is gathered ever be made available to this situation in Northern Ireland?

“Will we therefore have a blindsided, one-sided process that doesn’t allow for the Republic of Ireland to be held to accountable on its covering over and hiding of those terrorists for decades?”

In response, the Irish Department of Justice said they are “fully committed to the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement on addressing the history of the violent conflict in Northern Ireland.”

They said the 2019 Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act enhances “co-operation being provided to ongoing Coroners’ Inquests in Northern Ireland into historical deaths” and added that it “further underpins the Government’s commitment to full co-operation with the framework of measures set out in the Stormont House Agreement”.

The spokesperson for the Irish department also referenced a cross-border Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) which will be established.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis responded by outlining a paper which was signed off and agreed between himself and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Irish Government about a year ago.

“The Irish Government also committed itself to bringing forward legislation about information recovery to deal with that very point,” said Mr Lewis.

“I haven’t seen that yet, but I do hope we will see something from the Irish Government about that soon, to make sure we are working in both jurisdictions to ensure people have as much access to that information as possible.”

Meanwhile later in the debate, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle misquoted figures of the death toll from the Troubles.

Speaking to the House of Commons he stated that “more than 300,000 people lost their lives, and tens of thousands were injured among a population of fewer than two million.

“1,000 of those killed were members of the security forces.”

Conservative MP for Plymouth, Johnny Mercer, interrupted the speaker to correct him.

“300,000 people did not die in the Troubles, 300,000 veterans served in Northern Ireland, it’s 3,500 people who lost their lives and I’m sure he’ll welcome the chance to correct the record.”

Mr Kyle said he was “extremely grateful” for Mr Mercer for correcting him.

“I apologise to the house for getting a zero in the wrong place,” he said.

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