Belfast Telegraph

Move to grant amnesty to army veterans for Troubles incidents an insult to grieving families, says Sinn Fein

Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Sinn Fein has said any Government plan to prevent the prosecution of former soldiers for Troubles-related crimes would be an insult to bereaved families.

Mid Ulster MLA Linda Dillon was speaking after it was reported that new legislation is being prepared to provide a statutory presumption against prosecution. It would mean veterans wouldn't be charged if the alleged offence took place more than 10 years ago.

Ms Dillon said legislation was reportedly delayed due to the Brexit crisis but "it clearly showed the intent of the British Government to cover-up its crimes in Ireland".

She added: "From Bloody Sunday to the Ballymurphy massacre, Springhill, the New Lodge and in hundreds of other cases, the British Army were responsible for murder and mayhem on our streets."

Ms Dillon claimed that the army "actively colluded with unionist death squads, imported weapons and tortured and oppressed entire communities".

She continued: "Any attempt to absolve them from that is an affront to justice and an insult to grieving families who have spent decades campaigning for the truth.

"It would also be a direct breach of the Stormont House Agreement which was signed up to by both governments and the political parties and provided for the establishment of legacy mechanisms to deal with the past."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said any statute of limitations was unacceptable.

"It would apply to terrorists as well and it would mean a de facto amnesty," he said.

"British soldiers had to adhere to the laws of armed conflict, military and civil law and the rules of engagement while the terrorists adhered to nothing. We don't require any further laws when we know we operated within the law."

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