Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell has described the Secretary of State’s comments at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee yesterday on allowing suspected fugitive terrorists to return to Northern Ireland as “extremely dubious”. She said that he has made a mockery of the Government’s claim to be putting victims at the centre of the political process.
The North Down MLA stated: “It is totally perverse to allow terrorist fugitives back to Northern Ireland while those exiled by paramilitaries — often by the very same people now being allowed to return — remain unable to return home safely even for funerals of close family.
“Last week the Government claimed it had appointed a Victims’ Commissioner to put victims at the centre of the process. This week, it is putting the rights of suspected terrorists ahead of innocent victims who have been exiled from their homes.
“People are extremely dubious about the Government’s intentions here. This is another example of the wretched sectarian carve-up that passes for ‘political progress’ here — ‘victims’ are handed out to the DUP, while ‘fugitives’ are handed out to Sinn Féin.
“Unlike others, Alliance will not just stand idly by and then complain after the event — we will do everything we can to use our influence beforehand. We have already lobbied opposition parties successfully to block similar legislation. Both Governments have a duty to ensure we do not have to go down that route again – but the people of Northern Ireland may rest assured that if we need to, we will do so without hesitation.
“Alliance will not be diverted from its drive to place victims and innocent exiles genuinely at the centre of the process of reconciliation.”