Tory Troubles plan ‘a regression to 2014’ says unionist who supports end to historic prosecutions

The Tories’ revamped amnesty proposals are just a “regression” to ideas from 2014.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 7:15 pm
Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon

That is the view of Jeff Dudgeon, the former UUP councillor who has been a prominent commentator on legacy matters in recent years.

He opposes the plans laid out on Tuesday by the government – but for quite different reasons than those of many victims’ groups.

Mr Dudgeon had been in favour of the previous incarnation of the government’s plans – a blanket end to all prosecutions.

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Of the new plan, he said: “On the surface it looks mildly satisfying.”

But in terms of how it actually will work, he said “it’s a regression back to a version of Stormont House ... it’s basically just going to prolong the agony for many years to come, and there’ll be no let-up in lawfare”.

Under Stormont House, a body called the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval would have been set up.

It would keep the identities of co-operators secret, and confessions would be “inadmissible in criminal and civil proceedings”.

However, it also said: “No individual who provides information to the body will be immune from prosecution for any crime committed should the required evidential test be satisfied by other means.”

Mr Dudgeon had previously written: “I think it hardly worth contemplating the Stormont House set-up.

“I long favoured drawing a line under the past ... We have already large elements of amnesty in government actions since 1998, like early releases and on-the-run letters.”

SINN FEIN SILENT ON PLANS SO FAR:

Whilst the DUP came out almost immediately on Tuesday to condemn the government’s revised Troubles plan, Sinn Fein had said nothing at time of writing.

No press release on the matter had been issued to the News Letter, or put on the party’s website, and the social media accounts of both Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald contained no mention of it.

The party’s press office was asked about it, but no response had been received.

The SDLP had issued a statement soon after Tuesday’s announcement, voicing their opposition to the revised plans.

Sinn Fein had been vocally opposed to the previous all-out amnesty, saying last year: “The British government are standing in complete isolation as they plough ahead with their proposed amnesty ...

“[They are] hell-bent on covering up their dirty war in Ireland and on protecting those involved, including those who pulled the trigger and those within the corridors of power who directed them.”

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