Belfast Telegraph

UUP MLA urges Brokenshire: fulfil promise and publish plans to deal with legacy of the Troubles

By Suzanne Breen

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has called on the Secretary of State to publish plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles as soon as possible.

He has also urged the DUP to use its influence at Westminster to ensure the Government acts swiftly.

Four months ago James Brokenshire pledged to launch the long awaited public consultation on legacy issues, even if a deal wasn't reached to restore power-sharing.

He said while he would prefer that progress on the draft legislation was accompanied by an agreement to restore the Executive, he was obliged to act in the best interests of victims.

Mr Beattie said: "I call on the Secretary of State to announce exactly when the consultation will start.

"The consultation does not require a deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP to begin this important step towards dealing with our past and neither should they be allowed to block it because of its uncomfortable content.

"It is important that the public are told what the Legacy Bill will contain and that victims' and survivors' groups should have the opportunity to influence the detail of the Bill."

The DUP must use "whatever influence it has with the Government at Westminster to get this consultation process launched as soon as possible", he added.

The Upper Bann MLA said while his party had concerns about a possible statute of limitations to prevent security force members being prosecuted for offences early in the Troubles, that shouldn't stop the consultation proceeding.

"Having taken legal advice, it is clear any statute of limitations is likely to result in a general amnesty, which will obviously include those who committed some of the worst human rights abuses in our recent history," he said.

"For this reason we cannot support a statute of limitation and we call on DUP leader Arlene Foster to ask her MPs to remove their names from the proposal that is currently making its way through Westminster."

A Government spokeswoman said Mr Brokenshire was "reflecting carefully" on how to progress with the public consultation.

She said: "The Government wants to consult soon but wants this to happen at a time that will best build support and confidence in the new legacy institutions from across the community."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill has said she wants to lead her party back into a new Executive based on the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

She called for "meaningful dialogue to get the political institutions back up and running".

Mrs O'Neill accused the Government of failing to "bring forward any firm proposals to move the process forward".

Belfast Telegraph

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