news block Favicon

news block Favicon

The devil will be in the details, but as an example of upfront news management, the UK government’s plans for a trouble amnesty could hardly be worse for opinion in Northern Ireland.

Veterans who served in Northern Ireland will eventually be released from the threat of prosecution.

In a victory for him Daily mail, A planned statute of limitations will be announced today that will cover all incidents during trouble.

The move by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is expected to do justice to up to 200 British soldiers who served during 30 years of bloody conflict in the province.

So after the initial euphoria, concerns start to surface.

But, in a heavy blow, it will also give an effective amnesty to the IRA terrorists who murdered and maimed thousands during the period.

The plan could lead to the end of proceedings against a 65-year-old man who was arrested in Belfast last year in connection with the 1974 IRA pub bombings in Birmingham that killed 21 people.

In a new coup, the move may come too late to stop the prosecution of two former soldiers already in court.

Ministers were warned that they would violate human rights laws if the amnesty was applied only on one side.

Last night, relatives of civilians shot to death by soldiers during a notorious flash point in Ballymurphy, west of Belfast, in 1971, said the government’s “amnesty” plans “buried war crimes.”

Paul Young, a former Blues and Royals soldier who now works with the Northern Ireland Veterans Justice campaign group, said: ‘Like everything else, the devil is in the details. We have always resisted equivalence or being seen as terrorists and that is the problem with this amnesty.

‘Veterans will be delighted if the legislation is acceptable to us and ends the constant cycle of trauma with repeated investigations. But we’ve seen things before and they haven’t been good; we welcome the opportunity to view these proposals. We believe that the Government wants this to stop and is trying to find a way out, but it has to be the right way ”.

But former conservative veteran minister Johnny Mercer said the idea was simplistic.

Mercer, who resigned from the government for failing to end the witch hunt against British veterans, said: “An unqualified statute of limitations is an amnesty, something I have always opposed.

“We should not, in conscience, cut off the paths to justice where there is evidence, simply because of the passage of time. It would be a mistake to do so, and veterans who fought to keep the peace within the strict limitations of the law in Northern Ireland have never advocated this path. ‘

Most of those close to inherited cases generally agree that the evidence to secure convictions is now either unobtainable or legally unreliable. This has been confirmed by two recent cases. On McCann tThe court ruled that contemporary accounts delivered to the Royal Military Police not under reprimand and about “coffee and cookies” were inadmissible. The decision tor drop the Bloody Sunday case against Soldier F. it is being legally challenged, but it seems like the end of a long and agonizing road. He left local MP Colum Eastwood naming him powerless under parliamentary privilege but without further circulation.

The record isn’t impressive, but is the way to handle it an artificial cut-off point? From January of this year ..

P.Rosecutors has handled only 19 legacy case files, more than half related to the military, since a new police unit was established six years ago, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Only five cases out of a total of 953 involving 1,184 deaths are currently being investigated by the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) of the PSNI, while nine are “under review.”

Nine people have been charged since January 2015: six former members of the Army, two Republicans and a single loyalist, currently on trial. There have been no convictions since the cases were transferred to the unit from the Historical Investigations Team.

The £ 150 million funding over five years is still available despite Arlene Foster’s refusal to activate it.

Why has the British government made this turnaround that has been festering for months, if not years? It violates the important degree of agreement reached at NI and with Dublin (which is materially involved). Even the Malone House Group, defended by the bulletin and insisting that the system disproportionately targets security forces, is unlikely to be impressed.

In general, all parties had agreed on a bill and it had been confirmed in the new decade, new agreement. It established long-standing separate institutions from a new independent historical investigations unit to review caseloads and recommend separate prosecution and oral history and information retrieval bodies. Now it appears that the process will be merged into a single body, suggesting that there will be little or no risk in releasing legally damaging information.

A legally separate HIU would have better preserved the rule of law. Why has this been abandoned when it probably would have led to a similar conclusion but in a more transparent way and more compliant with human rights law? It is blatantly obvious that they were throwing a bone at the super-patriots of English conservatism who, under Johnson, have taken over the party, making it a comparatively minor problem for them. In its political calculations, Northern Ireland opinion, even when partially united, is expendable.

This is one of the reactions Brandon Lewis will face today and in the days to come. But once again, and even more than Brexit and the Protocol, Northern Ireland’s opinion is being mocked. In Westminster, the opinion of the former English director of the prosecution that leads the Labor Party is highly anticipated.

news block Favicon

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; BBC NI political editor; BBC Radio 4, editor of Current Affairs Commissioning; Editor of Political and Parliamentary Programs, BBC Westminster; Former London Belfast Telegraph editor. Hon. Senior Researcher, Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London