Jeffrey Donaldson: Structures to deal with past ‘needed as soon as possible’

It is “absolutely essential” that a process to deal with Troubles-era legacy issues is operating as soon as possible, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

The DUP MP was commenting after some victims’ groups said they could not back the current proposals to deal with the past.

Writing in the News Letter on Monday, Innocent Victims United (IVU) and SEFF (South East Fermanagh Foundation) called on those “who claim to represent the interests of our constituency” to act on the concerns of innocent victims.

The groups said that any attempt to “tinker around the edges” rather than overhaul the proposed structures was not in the interest of victims.

One of the main fears is that while the new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) will probe the conduct of former security force members, “there is little opportunity to hold terrorists accountable”.

Last night Sir Jeffrey said his party was “very much aware” of the concerns.

“We have met with SEFF on a number of occasions, including during the consultation process on the legacy proposals,” he said.

“Those concerns are reflected in our own submission that was made to the government in response to the consultation process. I don’t think the government are going to at this stage proceed with definitive proposals, but instead there will be further discussions with key stakeholders about how we take this forward.”

Mr Donaldson added: “Our priority is to get a proper process in place that enables victims to have access to justice and the sooner that happens the better.

“With every year that passes, sadly more and more victims are not getting to the point where they have access to justice, so it is absolutely essential that we all work together to get this process under way as soon as possible.”