Just last week the UK Ambassador to the UN made a forceful speech about the centrality of justice to achieving a lasting peace.
In comments which now appear sharply at odds with the deal between the Government and Sinn Fein, Sir Mark Lyall Grant told the UN Security Council in New York that those responsible for “appalling” crimes should be prosecuted.
In a debate about “the rule of law in conflict-affected countries”, Sir Mark said: “History has taught us that you cannot have lasting peace without justice, accountability and reconciliation.
“Popular uprisings around the world demonstrate that nations cannot maintain lasting peace and prosperity whilst denying their citizens basic rights and justice.
“We have built the architecture of international justice so that individuals responsible for appalling crimes have been and are being prosecuted.”
The senior British diplomat went on: “We must all use the council’s authority to fight impunity and help countries recovering from conflict to re-build their rule of law systems so that people everywhere are safe and have access to the justice they so rightly deserve.”
And, seemingly unaware of the deal between the Government and Sinn Fein, he said: “Twenty years ago, impunity for war crimes was the norm.
“We have worked hard to break that norm.
“While there is more work to do, in recent decades we have entered a new age of accountability.”
Sir Mark added: “The message of the last two decades is clear: If you commit heinous crimes, you will not rest easily.
“International justice is patient, and its reach is long. There is no expiry date for these crimes. You will be prosecuted.”