‘Grave concern’ at UK actions on Troubles legacy, says Irish committee chairman

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The chairman of an Irish parliamentary committee on the Good Friday Agreement has expressed his “grave concern” at UK Government moves to tackle the legacy of the Troubles.

The UK Government has said that the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill aims to provide better outcomes for victims, survivors and veterans.

As part of the plan, immunity will be offered to those who are deemed to have co-operated with an information retrieval body.

The Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) will be headed by a judge.

The Bill would also stop future inquests and civil actions related to the Troubles, however it does not fully close the door to criminal prosecutions.

The proposed legislation has been widely criticised by Northern Irish political parties, as well as victims’ campaigners and the Irish Government.

British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference meeting in Dublin
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is piloting the Bill through Parliament (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fergus O’Dowd, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, said: “While it will take some time to analyse the implications of the Bill in full, I would like to express my grave concern at the UK Government’s decision to act unilaterally on this highly sensitive issue.”

“The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has met in recent months with a wide range victims groups. We have heard, loud and clear, their urgent need for justice and accountability in addressing the legacy of the past.

“I call on the UK Government to work together with the Irish Government, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, to ensure that all efforts to address the legacy of the Troubles have the needs of victims and survivors at the centre.

“The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement stands ready to support efforts to reach consensus, to build trust and recommit to a spirit of reconciliation.

“The Committee will continue to assess the UK Government’s proposals and will respond further when our analysis is complete.”

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