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NI Assembly recalled to discuss Troubles amnesty plan


The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be recalled from summer recess to discuss plans by the Westminster Government to introduce a statute of limitations on Troubles prosecutions.

More than 30 MLAs have signed the recall petition and will meet on Tuesday.

MLAs will debate a motion calling for victims and survivors to have a "full, material and central role and input into the content and design of structures to address the legacy of the past".

Earlier this week the government outlined proposals for a amnesty on Troubles related crimes. 

The plan to end all prosecutions – including inquests – for incidents up to April 1998, applying to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries, has united all sides in Northern Ireland in opposition, as well as in Dublin. 

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The SDLP sought the recall of MLAs from their summer break to address the proposals.

The party’s deputy leader Nichola Mallon said the “British Government’s brutal intervention is hostile to the interests of victims and survivors and must be opposed”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the proposals would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”. It would also see an end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

The parties met with NI Secretary Brandon Lewis on Friday. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie described the talks as “robust”.

The problem with that is it didn`t move us any further on and most importantly, it didn`t provide any solutions for innocent victims. We need to look at this through a different lens,” said Mr Beattie. 

“I made clear at the meeting that we would not be supporting a statute of limitations, which has always been our consistent position because it was always going to inevitably lead to an amnesty for terrorists. The UK Government must widen their proposals to incorporate a criminal justice element or they will risk inflicting more pain on innocent victims whose families have already sacrificed so much.”

Mr Beattie said the solution could not be found in the Stormont House Agreement, which they oppose, claiming it too provided for an amnesty.

“Any proposals which snuff out any hope of justice need to be abandoned."

The Assembly will debate the matter on Tuesday from noon. 

The motion reads: “That this Assembly believes that victims and survivors should have a full, material and central role and input into the content and design of structures to address the legacy of the past; rejects the proposals contained in the British Government’s Command Paper 498 ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past’ for a statute of limitations in relation to criminal investigations and prosecutions and its further proposals in relation to ‘current and future civil cases and inquests’.

It continued: “[That this Assembly] further believes that these proposals do not serve the interests, wishes or needs of victims and survivors nor the requirements of truth, justice, accountability, acknowledgement and reconciliation; recalls the approach to dealing with the legacy of the past agreed at Stormont House which also forms the basis of an international treaty between the UK and Irish Governments; calls on the British Government to withdraw its Command Paper 498; further calls for a commitment by all parties and the British and Irish Governments to truth, justice, acknowledgement, accountability and reconciliation as essential to address the requirements of victims and to demonstrate how these requirements will be addressed in legacy arrangements; and calls for this Assembly to renews its commitment to address the legacy of the past, fulfil the requirements of truth, justice, acknowledgement, accountability and reconciliation and to oppose the British Government introducing legislation to impose its proposals.”

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