An Ulster-born lawyer who was professionally involved in the negotiation of the Belfast Agreement has come out in favour of a blanket amnesty to prevent anyone being convicted for crimes committed during the Troubles.
Austen Morgan, who has worked as a barrister in London for years, set out a case for drawing a line under Troubles cases.
Dr Morgan, who once advised David Trimble, made a similar argument in a submission to the Haass talks in 2013, but has expanded on it in a new book which is published today.
Dr Morgan told the News Letter that “Northern Ireland doesn’t have a future if the past continues to occupy the present”.
Writing in Tony Blair and the IRA: The ‘On The Runs’ Scandal, Dr Morgan says: “It might be thought – given the critical view of Tony Blair expressed here – that the successful prosecution of all On The Runs (OTRs) would be the only way of proceeding.
“On the contrary, I have come to the opposite conclusion, during the writing of this book, that a statutory amnesty is the only way forward.”
He goes on: “However, I am only interested in the idea, if it applies equally to everyone.”
“There has been little spontaneous reconciliation since 1998, even though violence has given way to politics. It is very striking that, for many, time has not healed.
“This is not helped by the perception that ‘bad guys’ – including the OTRs – do well in Northern Ireland. But the instinctive response, to investigate and prosecute all perpetrators (even with only two years in prison), is extremely problematic.”