Fresh call for legacy survey

IRA gunmen. Debate continues on when consultation on dealing with the past should begin.
IRA gunmen. Debate continues on when consultation on dealing with the past should begin.

The UUP has made a renewed call for a public consultation on dealing with the past - which the DUP believes will happen early this year.

Flowing from the Stormont House Agreement in 2014, the proposals include an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) and an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said the consultation was first talked about last Easter.

“Having called for the Legacy public consultation to start before Christmas I now call on the Secretary of State to announce exactly when the consultation will start,” he said.

The consultation does not require a deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP to begin, he said, the former having triggered the ongoing collapse of the power-sharing executive almost one year ago.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party recently met with the Northern Ireland Office. “My party leader was clear with the Secretary of State that we believe the formal public consultation on legacy issues should be published as soon as possible,” he said. “We have been assured that it will be undertaken early this year.”

The DUP is only supporting a statute of limitations on prosecution of security force members and not a general amnesty, he said.

An NIO spokeswoman said the Government wishes to consult soon but wants this to happen at “a time that will best build support and confidence in the new legacy institutions from across the community”.

She added: “The Secretary of State is reflecting carefully on the next steps for taking forward a consultation.”

Sinn Fein Legacy spokesperson Linda Dillon said it is committed to the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement and has been pressing the government for pre-legislative consultation “solely on the initial draft legacy bill” but excluding the “amnesty for state forces” which was added later. She also called for funding for legacy inquests.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said that before consultation they want On-The-Run letters be annulled, London and Dublin to make legal aid available to victims and confirmation that cases already reviewed may be examined again by the HIU.