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Taoiseach: opposition to amnesty unanimous

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Credit: Colin Keegan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Credit: Colin Keegan

Colin Keegan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Credit: Colin Keegan

Political leaders in Northern Ireland and the Republic unanimously oppose UK Government plans to introduce a statute of limitations on Troubles prosecutions, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheal Martin said he told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that there is unified opposition to proposals to end Troubles prosecutions.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced earlier this month that he intends to introduce legislation to create a proposed statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

The plan has been heavily criticised by all the main political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government, and a range of victims' and survivors' groups.

Mr Martin said it is time to implement the Stormont House Agreement.

"Our view is that the victims of atrocities, the families of those victims, need justice where justice can be provided," he added.

"All agencies and all governments should and must cooperate in terms of providing the information that the families of victims require."

Mr Martin said he has "huge difficulty" in agreeing to Mr Lewis's proposals for "anybody who committed murder, irrespective of whether they're a state actor, or whether they're in paramilitary organisations, who took the lives of so many people".

First Minister Paul Givan said there should be a focus on facilitating truth and justice.

"There has been an extensive focus, when it comes to the British state, in terms of inquests and when it comes to soldiers, and people do need to be held to account," he added.

"But we need to make sure the focus here is on those 90% of killings, perpetrated by terrorist organisations and those individuals.

"Some of those fled across the border, and there are concerns from those families about the way in which there was a failure to extradite those individuals in the past.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the proposals are "absolutely outrageous".

"They're based on the premise of vexatious claims against British state forces when we know that is a bogus argument.

"I can count on one hand the number of British state actors that have ever been prosecuted for their role in the conflict, but I certainly could say that almost 25,000 citizens here on the island of Ireland actually went to jail as a result of actions in the conflict."

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