Belfast Telegraph

Video: Queen's academic labels UUP position on Stormont House Agreement 'morally outrageous'

By Mark Edward

A leading academic at Queens University Belfast has said the Ulster Unionist (UUP) position on the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) is "morally outrageous".

Kieran McEvoy, Professor of Law and Transitional Justice at Queen's, made the comments to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning.

The UUP hit back at Mr McEvoy's comments, saying they will not make any apology for rejecting proposals that will "ignore tens of thousands of innocent victims". 

The party has previously rejected the SHA, saying it equates innocent victims with perpatrators.

Mr McEvoy was a member of the Model Bill team who drafted plans for implementing the SHA.

The agreement was reached with Northern Ireland's political leaders in order to deal with Northern Ireland's violent past.

Mr McEvoy told the Committee: "I think this piece of legislation (SHA) is the best we are going to get in terms of trying to address the needs of victims.

"It is not perfect, we did a 106 page submission on things that need tweaked to it, but nonetheless, it is the best we are going to do.

"I think if it is given a fair wind politically it can address the needs of the vast majority of victims in our society."

He added: "There is one political party that appears to be playing fast and loose with this, with 'lets dump the Stormont House Agreement', and not suggesting any alternative to that. It is the UUP and I find their statement on this morally outrageous."

Responding to Mr McEvoy, UUP justice spokesperson Doug Beattie said: “Any agreement that puts the interests of victims behind those of the perpetrators is morally corrupt and we make no apology for rejecting proposals that will ignore tens of thousands of innocent victims.

"We have called for fundamental changes to the SHA legacy proposals - which never enjoyed the support of the Ulster Unionist Party – and we have suggested alternatives."

The UUP has previously criticised the Historical Investigation Unit (HIU), set up to investigate legacy cases, saying it was a one-sided process that would focus on members of state forces and would result in the "re-writing of history".

“The UUP will apologise to nobody for articulating the concerns of innocent victims of terrorism and defending the security forces who bravely stood between the terrorists and the terrorised," Mr Beattie said.

"We refuse to facilitate the rewriting of history whereby terrorists and their innocent victims are given some kind of moral equivalence. If Kieran McEvoy thinks that is ‘morally outrageous’ then so be it.”   

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