A DUP MP said the party has been given “firm assurances” from the Secretary of State that no side deal was struck between the UK Government and Sinn Fein regarding Troubles-related killings.
It comes after Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly claimed that funding for legacy cases had been agreed as part of the mooted ‘draft deal’ reached during the negotiations to restore devolution.
Mr Kelly said he had proof of his party’s pact with the government.
But DUP MP Sammy Wilson has challenged Sinn Fein to produce this evidence and said: “Until they do I see no reason to believe this claim, as I do not put much stock in anything that Sinn Fein has to say”.
The East Antrim MP told the News Letter: “If Sinn Fein have proof, then let them show it. If the DUP had made a claim such as this, people would have been falling over themselves calling on us to produce proof.
“Yet it seems to be the case that Sinn Fein is able to make whatever claims they want without bring forward any evidence to back it up.”
Party leader Arlene Foster has claimed that no one in the DUP was aware of any arrangement between Sinn Fein and the government regarding legacy issues.
And in a statement issued yesterday by the NI Office, a government spokesperson said there had been “no side deals” during the latest round of talks at Stormont.
“As the Secretary of State made clear on Tuesday, she will be consulting on how to implement Stormont House legacy institutions as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added.
The government announced £150m in 2014 to support legacy reform in the Province.
Mr Wilson said the NI Secretary has “made it abundantly clear” that, in the absence of an agreed way forward on legacy issues, any proposals on dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled past will have to go out to consultation.
He added: “She said as much in the House of Commons this week, so is Sinn Fein suggesting that the Secretary of State lied to Parliament?
“It is no secret that Sinn Fein has been pushing for this money, and so it comes as no surprise that they have been using the talks process to press their demands on this issue.”
Mr Wilson claimed that, had Ms Bradley agreed to such a move, she would have “quickly run into trouble” from many within her own party.
“The Tories have shown they don’t want any more one-sided deals when it comes to issues of the past in Northern Ireland, where soldiers are hauled in front of the dock while terrorists are let off the hook,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill has briefed Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson on the progress made on legacy matters during the Stormont negotiations.
“The British Government did commit to releasing the inquest funding and to go ahead with the consultation, minus the amnesty proposal for British state forces,” Mrs O’Neill said yesterday
“That represents positive progress towards the implementation of commitments from the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements.
“The British Government should never have been using victims as bargaining chips in the negotiations and they now need to implement their agreement, release the funds immediately and start the consultation.
“We will continue to press for the full implementation of all agreements and to defend the rights and entitlements of all victims and survivors.”