Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said it is vital the UK Government proceeds with its proposed consultation on the legacy aspects of the Stormont House Agreement.
Dr Farry said a renewed discussion around a potential statute of limitations for soldiers accused of illegal killings here during the Troubles was inappropriate and at odds with existing Government policy, given the UK Government was a party to the Agreement.
“The Stormont House Agreement It is the only show in town when it comes to dealing with the legacy of the past. This was an agreement between the UK and Irish Governments and most of the main local parties.
“The current status quo with dealing with the legacy of the past is fragmented, piecemeal, cumbersome and expensive. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive approach to address requirements of justice, truth and reconciliation. This was provided in the Agreement. Reaching this point took many years, and the process of implementation since 2014 has itself been slow and frustrating.
“Any consultation must be focused on how the Stormont House Agreement can be delivered. It is already the established policy of the UK Government. Proposals for a statute of limitations are based on a false premise of disproportionate focus on military veterans. Everyone should be subject to the rule of law based on where the evidence leads.
“In seeking to equate members of the armed services with those who engaged in terrorism, there is a real danger in playing into the narrative some are seeking to develop which would see police and military personnel placed on the same level playing field. While there are major questions the state needs to address, the overwhelming majority of individuals served honourably in seeking to uphold the rule of law. Any statute of limitations would also be contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The NIO has already shared advanced drafts of the consultation documentation with the main Northern Ireland parties. This is rightly now much more focused around the proposed Stormont House institutions. It is now incumbent on the UK Government to proceed with this consultation, and to not allow what is actually its own policy to be unpicked due to internal difficulties.”