DCSIMG

Unionists and victims could gain from Troubles amnesty, claims ex-Trimble adviser

Former Timble adviser Austen Morgan has argued that the Attorney Generals proposals for a de facto amnesty does not mean that genuine victims should be forgotten.

Former Timble adviser Austen Morgan has argued that the Attorney Generals proposals for a de facto amnesty does not mean that genuine victims should be forgotten.

An Ulster-born London barrister who advised David Trimble has come out in favour of Attorney General John Larkin’s proposal for a de facto amnesty for Troubles crimes, arguing that unionists and victims could benefit.

Austen Morgan said that such a move could help to turn the focus away from allegations of state collusion with paramilitaries and back onto those responsible for the overwhelming majority of Troubles atrocities — terrorist organisations.

In a submission to the Haass talks Dr Morgan said that there was a stark choice: “Can the rule of law be restored by more troubles inquiries, inquests, prosecutions and police ombudsman reports? Or does attorney general John Larkin QC have a point: is it time to draw a line under the past?

“I submit that the latter is the better view, for good rule of law reasons: first, the position of victims paradoxically would be improved; second there would be greater transparency about who did what during the troubles; and third, the parameters of intellectual, and even ideological, debate would shift back from state killings to republican and loyalist paramilitaries.”

In the submission, seen by the News Letter, Dr Morgan said that since the 1998 agreement awareness of victims had increased. And he argued that the Attorney General’s proposals for a de facto amnesty “does not mean that genuine victims should be forgotten”.

“It is true that some [perpetrators] would go unpunished, as happened in both parts of Ireland in the early 1920s, but that option has been circumscribed considerably in the past sixteen years, in the Republic of Ireland as well as the UK, by: the decommissioning of terrorist weapons; the Saville and mini-Saville inquiries; the accelerated release of terrorist prisoners; and the search for the disappeared buried secretly in the Republic of Ireland.

“The choice becomes simple: either more agitation, leading to increased sectarianism, about state killings, strengthening the narrative of nationalism about UK historical oppression; or scholarly truth-telling based upon disclosed state archives and greater participation of civil society.”

Dr Morgan also proposed a central role for the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigating Troubles deaths and a curbing of both inquests and the Police Ombudsman’s Office. He believes state archives should be disclosed as an “online public body with civil society input” similar to the facility created for the Hillsborough football disaster, with facilitation for the writing of a “scholarly history of the past, by professional historians”.

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page