ALLIANCE Leader David Ford has welcomed the serious consideration being given by the British Government to a licencing scheme for those set to benefit from the Weston Park Amnesty as ‘a step in the right direction’.
Mr Ford stated: “There seems to be a growing acknowledgement that those wishing to benefit from any amnesty need to go through some form of due process under the law.”
“Alliance took the initiative after the Weston Park talks to bring forward realistic, pragmatic proposals. We suggested that those wishing to avail of an amnesty apply individually, that there is some acknowledgement of their offence before a court, and that they be placed on licence just as the early-released prisoners were.”
“Furthermore, before any amnesty would come into effect, the paramilitaries would be required to lift death threats against those they have exiled.”
“It is encouraging to see informed speculation that seems to be close to our own suggestions, although any concrete proposals need to be scrutinised properly and the issue of exiles still remains unresolved. This also should be addressed, as it remains breathtaking hypocrisy for the Government to allow former terrorists home while victims of their paramilitary colleagues cannot return.”
“We would wish to see the amnesty addressed and dealt with, but it must be on the basis of due process in line with the Agreement, if not actually written into it, and not the original suggestions which amounted to a blanket amnesty.”
“Alliance also believes that the Government should be formally consulting and discussing ideas with pro-Agreement parties before publishing its own detailed proposals. That way, we can come to an accommodation that is acceptable to everyone.”