Immunity ‘an option’ says Peter Robinson, as Haass talks continue

First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson


Peter Robinson has said he would not rule out listening to proposals offering immunity from prosecution in return for information on Troubles murders.

The First Minister was responding to reports that talks chair Richard Haass will float various ideas for a post-conflict truth recovery process.

Former US envoy Dr Haass is hosting discussions aimed at resolving historic disputes over flags, parading and the past by the end of the year.

However, despite appearing open to a form of immunity, Mr Robinson said the DUP would oppose anything that amounted to a blanket amnesty.

“I think we need to look at what he’s saying by way of immunity – is that immunity for all time over those actions, or is it a limited immunity, such as we have for instance with the decommissioning legislation?

“I think we’ll look at what the proposition is and judge it when we see the detail,” the First Minister said.

TUV leader Jim Allister said it was “shocking and deeply offensive to victims” that Mr Robinson would even consider such proposals if they were put forward.

He said there was a demand for justice from the many innocent victims of terrorism, and added: “With no danger of prosecution it also opens the door to the possibility of terrorists glorying in their bloody deeds.”

Last month, Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin QC caused widespread anger when he suggested the possibility of no further prosecutions for Troubles-related murders committed before the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Mr Allister added: “Co-First Minister Robinson’s announcement that he is prepared to consider immunity for terrorists is not surprising given that he has accepted self-confessed IRA commander McGuinness as a suitable partner in government. However, it is nonetheless shocking and deeply offensive to victims.

“In spite of what the media may claim, the most common demand I hear from victims is for justice. Immunity would deny them that. It is therefore totally unacceptable.

“Given what the DUP leader has said today many will conclude that the Attorney General’s comments were designed to make this proposal sound a little more reasonable.”

On Monday, Dr Haass told a press conference that “dealing with the past presents a very detailed and intricate set of issues”.

He said: “Balancing it and trying to get as full a picture of what really happened is obviously in everyone’s interest. What sort of incentives or mechanisms we might use, again will be on the table this week.”




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