Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland political turmoil: Amnesty for security forces legally questionable, says DPP

Legacy issues

By Mark Edwards

Northern Ireland's top prosecutor has said any amnesty for soldiers and policemen who may have committed serious crimes during the Troubles would be "difficult to manage" and legally "questionable".

Barra McGrory, who leaves the role as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in January, said his time in the job over the last 18 months had been "dominated by legacy" and expressed doubt about whether a so-called "statute of limitations" for state forces would work in practice.

The UK Government has put forward proposals to prevent security force members being prosecuted in a consultation on legacy cases.

Mr McGrory said: "As DPP, that would be difficult to manage. I will say no more than that.

"I have personal views on the broader legacy issue, which I will consider saying something about next year in my private capacity. But, as DPP, a partial amnesty would be difficult to administrate."

Asked whether any amnesty would be legal under international law, he said: "It would certainly invite challenges, but it is not for me to say whether it is legal or not."

He added: "In terms of the international legality, it would be questionable."

Mr McGrory was appointed DPP in November 2011 and is the first Catholic to hold the role. It is understood his successor may be announced today.

Asked whether he was handing over a "poisoned chalice", he said: "I don't pretend legacy is easy.

"I have always said it is extremely difficult to manage legacy from a prosecutorial point of view, for all sorts of reasons.

"A lot of evidence has been lost. The cases are hard to prosecute. Many victims are deeply disappointed with decisions not to prosecute cases; in other instances prosecutions may not be successful, so there is further disappointment."

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