Doug Beattie: We need to know if UK and Ireland have done a side deal on legacy

As the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Justice spokesperson I am becoming increasingly concerned that the legacy mechanisms agreed as part of the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) between Sinn Fein and the DUP have been underpinned by a secret agreement between the UK and Irish governments.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 1:00 pm
If the NIO and the British government, having made an agreement with the Irish government, are determined to press on with the Stormont House legacy structures, then the consultation on them was a sham

The SHA was an ‘agreement’ between some of the main political parties — less the Ulster Unionist Party who withheld its consent — and was not an agreement between the two governments.

Indeed there are no signatories to the SHA as published by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Yet recently we have heard from the Irish government who are virtually demanding that the legacy mechanisms, including the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), be instigated in full.

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That seems to be have been taken up by the NIO who seem anxious to propitiate Dublin.

Therefore it is right to question whether the UK government have made any side deals or agreements with the Irish government in respect of the legacy mechanisms of the SHA.

This would explain why the NIO are determined to press home the HIU in defiance of parliament and the people of Northern Ireland who are clearly against such a move.

They do so with the support of the DUP who state on page 26 of their policy plan published last week, ‘The DUP considers the best chance of justice for victims to come from a new investigatory team with full police powers’.

That new investigatory team is the HIU. It is that team that could investigate former RUC officers for non-criminal misconduct, even officers who were murdered by terrorists, yet ignore those left limbless, burned, blind, disabled and psychologically damaged by an indiscriminate and savage terrorist bombing campaign, the vast majority of these crimes committed by the IRA, and other troubles related attacks.

This is the same HIU that Sinn Fein are frothing at the mouth to have implemented because it ignores so many cases of terrorism conducted by the organisation they supported.

If the NIO and the UK government are determined to press on with these legacy mechanisms, against the findings of the consultation, then it shows that the consultation was nothing more than a sham.

It proves that the words of the then secretary of state – Karen Bradley – when she said ‘…this consultation also welcomes views from those who might have other ideas, either about how the institutions should work, or about alternatives to the institutions themselves’ were hollow words.

It now seems that the consultation was designed to deflect from the deep frustration and anger that the DUP and Sinn Fein legacy carve up was actually underpinned by the Irish and UK governments and that Dublin are holding the whip hand in this protracted circus.

Any Northern Irish MP who enters Westminster and takes their seats must stop this flawed deal and the electorate must hold them to account if they come asking for their votes.

Doug Beattie MC MLA, UUP Justice Spokesperson