Sir Jeffrey Donaldson: ‘Significant changes’ likely for NI legacy plan

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP would not support proposals that did not have the backing of innocent victims
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP would not support proposals that did not have the backing of innocent victims
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The government is set to make “significant changes” to its proposals to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, a DUP MP has said.

The NI Office has been sifting through over 17,000 responses to its consultation, which closed last October after five months.

And DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, whose party is propping up the Tory administration at Westminster, said the assessment of the responses is almost complete.

He added: “As a result of discussions we have been having at Westminster, we believe the government is going to be making significant changes to the legacy proposals in response to the concerns raised on behalf of innocent victims.”

The government’s consultation paper, published last May, outlines a number of proposals – including plans for a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to look into the massive backlog of unsolved murders.

The consultation provoked strong opposition from several groups, including unionists, victims, the Police Federation and the Orange Order.

DUP justice spokesperson Mr Donaldson said his party “will not agree to any process that doesn’t meet the needs of innocent victims”.

He told the News Letter: “We would strongly oppose any move to create a legacy process that only had the support of republicans.

“It is essential that it has the support of innocent victims across the board, including those from the unionist community.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has warned the government not to attempt to use the latest round of Stormont talks as a means to “force through unbalanced, unfair and deeply flawed” legacy proposals.

A fresh round of talks aimed at salvaging devolution was announced on Friday.

Former soldier turned politician Mr Beattie voiced his fear that the government may be prepared to “cave in” to the demands of republicans on legacy issues by implementing measures already agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein in the Stormont House Agreement.

He added: “The HIU will only investigate some – not all – Troubles-related deaths. Strangely enough it will seek to investigate every death caused by the security forces, but will not investigate every death of a member of the security forces.

“Bearing in mind that the security forces were responsible for 10% of Troubles-related deaths, and terrorists for 90%, the imbalance is clear.”