Stormont recalled amid objections to UK unrest amnesty plans


MPs will return to Stormont on Tuesday to tell the British government that they will not agree to plans to end the prosecution for the crimes of Troubles.

The House has been recalled from its summer recess as anger grows over proposals revealed last week by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to address legacy issues in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, victims of terrorism are also expected to travel to Downing Street to deliver a letter stating their opposition to what has been described as a “de facto amnesty”.

Mr Lewis announced last week that he intended to introduce legislation to create a statute of limitations project that would end all prosecution for incidents until April 1998 and apply to military veterans as well as the ex-paramilitaries.

The proposals, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under unrest”, would also end all inquiries and civil actions related to the conflict.

But the proposals have come under heavy criticism from all of Northern Ireland’s major political parties as well as the Irish government, and a range of victim and survivor groups.

As part of the row, the SDLP filed a petition calling for Stormont’s recall and received the required 30 signatures from MPs.

The Assembly will debate a motion stating that “victims and survivors should have a full, material and central role and contribution in the content and design of structures to deal with the legacy of the past”.

The motion also calls on MPs to ‘reject the proposals’ for statutes of limitations on criminal investigations and prosecutions and calls on the Westminster government to withdraw the plans.

Deputy SDLP leader Nichola Mallon, who filed the recall petition, said it was an opportunity for political leaders to “come together and unequivocally oppose the UK government’s proposed amnesty for those involved in crimes related to the unrest ”.

She added: “Political leaders have the opportunity to send a clear message to Boris Johnson and Brandon Lewis when the Assembly is recalled. There can be no type of amnesty and each party must express it.

“The amnesty plan announced last week was a blow to the victims, many of whom have spent years campaigning to find out the exact circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones.

“The arrogant announcement by the British government that Boris Johnson said ‘draw a line under unrest’, in fact did the exact opposite. These plans re-traumatized the victims and forced them to once again endure the pain of losing their loved one.

“The UK government cannot be allowed to decide who deserves justice and on what terms. We cannot let them extinguish the hopes of the victims.

A number of families of victims are expected to visit Downing Street on Tuesday to report their opposition to the statute of limitations plans.

They should include Raymond McCord, a veteran victim activist whose 22-year-old son Raymond Jr. was murdered by the UVF in Belfast in 1997; Billy McManus, whose father William was one of five people killed in February 1992 when the UFF opened fire on the Sean Graham bookmaker’s shop on Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast; Joe Campbell jnr, whose father Joseph, a Catholic police officer, was shot dead outside Cushendall RUC station in 1977, along with families of victims of the IRA pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974, in which 21 people were killed. – PA


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