Beattie: Amnesty is nothing new – just read the 2014 SHA deal

Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionists, used his contribution to yesterday’s Troubles amnesty debate to attack the Stormont House Agreement.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 10:38 am
Doug Beattie gesturing in the chamber on Tuesday

That deal was struck in 2014 as a means of breaking the deadlock around welfare reform; at the time, Sinn Fein was refusing to accept any changes to the benefits system, causing devolution to effectively grind to a halt.

And a key plank of the 2020 New Decade New Approach deal – which revived the Assembly after years in abeyance thanks to Sinn Fein walking out of government in 2017 – states that Stormont House Agreement’s (SHA) measures to “address Northern Ireland legacy issues” must be realised in full.

Here is some of what the Stormont House Agreement says about legacy:

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> “The Executive will, by 2016, establish an Oral History Archive to provide a central place for people ... to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles.”

> The government will commission “a factual historical timeline and statistical analysis of the Troubles, to report within 12 months”.

> A Historical Inquiries Unit would be set up to try and solve all murders not already dealt with by a previous unit, the Historical Enquiries Team, within five years. But the agreement stated that the new body would deal with deaths only, not injuries etc.

This is a point the UUP has repeatedly raised in the years since. And yesterday in the Assembly, Mr Beattie said: “If you support the Stormont House Agreement, you support a de facto amnesty – and you do.

“Under the Stormont House Agreement, if you were left limbless, blind, burnt, in a wheelchair or psychologically damaged, you do not get an investigation.

“If you were kidnapped in Northern Ireland, taken across the border, tortured and murdered, there would be no investigation.

“That is what the Stormont House Agreement says... Members can read it, and it will tell them exactly what I have just laid out.”

He also renewed his attacks on the Irish state’s legacy record, saying: “Thousands of attacks to maim and kill our citizens emanated from Ireland, across the border, and the perpetrators retreated across the border, but the Irish government are not investigating.”

More on this topic here:

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