The element of the new DUP-Tory deal which concerns legacy issues has been dismissed as “just words” by TUV leader Jim Allister.
The last segment of the deal, headed ‘Legacy’, states that the government will “work with the Executive and all parties to seek the implementation of the legacy bodies in the Stormont House Agreement”.
Central to the Stormont House deal was the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU); a “new independent body” which would take over responsibility for probing the massive compendium of largely unsolved Troubles cases.
Despite the mammoth size of the task, the HIU was meant to “complete its work within five years of its establishment”.
More than two-and-a-half years after that Stormont House deal was signed, the HIU still does not exist, and the PSNI has instead created a Legacy Investigations Branch to tackle the work it was supposed to do (this was meant to be an interim measure, and the PSNI recently announced it was scaling back the branch’s legacy work due to budget cuts).
The new DUP-Tory document said that the next step is a “consultation” into setting up the HIU (and a handful of other measures).
It also went on to say that probes into the past must not “unfairly focus on former members of the armed forces or police”, and praised the “courage and sacrifice” of both.
Mr Allister said: “I think what it says in today’s thing is just words.
“The fact there is no reference to statute of limitations [for alleged state crimes], or some things like that that were talked about, is maybe more telling than the platitudes that are in the agreement.”