QUB Prof: UUP opposition to Stormont House Agreement ‘morally outrageous’

Prof Kieran McEvoy
Prof Kieran McEvoy
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An leading academic who advises on the Stormont House Agreement has branded the UUP opposition to the proposals as “morally outrageous”.

Professor Kieran McEvoy from Queens University Belfast was a member of the Model Bill team who drafted plans for implementing the Stormont House Agreement. He was speaking while giving evidence to MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today.

Mr McEvoy said the UUP opposition to the agreement without suggesting an alternative was “morally outrageous”.

However UUP MLA Doug Beattie firmly rejected the claim.

“Any agreement that puts the interests of the victims behind those of the perpetrators is morally corrupt,” he tweeted in response. “We’ll make no apologies for fighting for all victims.”

Kate Hoey MP told the panel that many people consider the panel of three academics “anti-state” as she said it worked closely with Relatives for Justice and Amnesty International. However Mr McEvoy responded that this view “exasperated” him, that a wide range of victims groups attend his events and that he provides advice to any groups which ask.

He also defended Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson from recent criticism, saying that she had no choice but to work within the current legislation and could not challenge the current definition of a victim, which critics see as equating terrorists with their victims.

The committee was taking evidence from the panel of three academics who drafted a Model Bill for implementing the Stormont House Agreement, as part of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Government’s own Draft Bill.

The session covered whether the proposals in the Draft Stormont House Agreement Bill can effectively achieve their stated aims, how the Draft Bill can progress in the continued absence of a Northern Ireland Executive and also the remit, powers and duties of the proposed Historical Investigations Unit, which would look at Troubles-related deaths.

Those giving evidence were Prof Louise Mallinder, Professor of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Prof Kieran McEvoy, Professor of Law and Transitional Justice, Queen’s University Belfast and Daniel Holder, Deputy Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice. All three are members of the Model Bill Team.