DUP: ‘No amnesty – too many terrorists freed already’

Northern Ireland’s biggest unionist party has stated that it remains opposed to any amnesty for Troubles perpetrators, ahead of a major government announcement today.

By Adam Kula
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 6:00 am
A propaganda photograph showing IRA volunteers on a rural roadway in 1989
A propaganda photograph showing IRA volunteers on a rural roadway in 1989

The DUP statement came just as Secretary of State Brandon Lewis was preparing to tell the House of Commons this afternoon that he is pressing ahead with a proposal to permanently close all pre-1998 cases.

The move comes after the trial of two former soldiers accused of murder in the early 1970s collapsed.

The DUP position is that it “does not believe in an amnesty for anyone who perpetrated wrongful actions”.

The story began to emerge last night, when the Press Association news agency reported that Brandon Lewis’ is “expected to include a statute of limitations ending all prosecutions related to the Troubles before 1998” this afternoon.

The DUP then issued a statement opposing an amnesty last night in the name of Gregory Campbell, saying: “Far too many terrorists have already been released early.

“Everyone must be equal under the law.”

Today’s expected announcement follows a decision by prosecutors to axe charges against two men – Soldier F, for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday, and Soldier B, for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty.

And in April, the trial of soldiers A and C over the alleged murder of active Official IRA man Joe McCann collapsed.

The ‘New Decade New Approach deal’ – struck between Sinn Fein and the DUP in January 2020, leading to Stormont being revived — committed the UK government to passing a law which would enforce the terms of an earlier deal: 2014’s ‘Stormont House Agreement’.

That 2014 deal had said a body called the Historical Investigations Unit was to be set up (HIU) to investigate all cases not already dealt with by the Historical Enquiries Team — roughly 1,700 deaths.

In a move dismissed by ex-police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan as “impossible”, the 2014 deal then went on to say that all of these legacy cases should be dealt with in just five years.

To illustrate the scale of such a task, it would mean that the HIU would have 1,825 days in which to close the cases of 1,700 fatalities.

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