Belfast Telegraph

Majority of respondents to legacy consultation opposed to immunity for veterans

Proposal: Soldier during Troubles
Proposal: Soldier during Troubles
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A government consultation on plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles has revealed that a clear majority opposed an amnesty for veterans.

The weight of opinion expressed in 17,500 responses rejected the controversial proposal.

Views were sought on a series of new mechanisms to investigate, document and uncover the truth around thousands of killings during the Troubles.

The mechanisms, which include a new independent investigation unit and a truth recovery body, were agreed in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement but then delayed due to the power-sharing impasse.

It is understood officials will now consult with the various parties to gauge their views.

The Stormont House proposals do not include any form of statute of limitations. However, the issue of an amnesty for veterans has become controversial in part due to several prosecutions against former soldiers.

"The clear majority of all respondents argued that a statute of limitations or amnesty would not be appropriate for Troubles-related matters," the summary said.

"Many were clear that victims, survivors and families are entitled to pursue criminal justice outcomes and such a move could risk progress towards reconciliation. There was a strong sense that the new mechanisms must be fair and not favour any particular group."

The Northern Ireland Office acknowledged that some respondents did favour "drawing a line" under the past, arguing that security force members should be afforded protections or given concessions handed to paramilitaries during the peace process.

The Time for Truth campaign, which advocates for victims of State violence, claimed yesterday it had collated almost 15,000 of the responses.

"Well done to all of the families of the #TimeForTruth Campaign and their great supporters for facing down the intransigence of the British State," it said online.

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