Northern Ireland: Statute of limitations for Troubles related incidents announced

Brandon Lewis says measures will apply 'equally to all Troubles-related incidents'

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The Government has announced plans for a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions of ex-paramilitaries and former members of the security forces in Troubles-related cases in Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis told the Commons he plans to bring the legislation to Parliament in the autumn.

But, even before the proposals had been announced, victims and political parties had criticised them as a “de facto amnesty”.

GB News Northern Ireland reporter Conchúr Dowds told Gloria De Piero and Liam Halligan that the plans "somehow seem to have united everyone bar the government against it."

Mr Lewis said his plan for dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled past also includes a new truth recovery body and an oral history initiative.

He confirmed proposals for a statute of limitations “to apply equally to all Troubles-related incidents”, telling the Commons: “We know that the prospect of the end of criminal prosecutions will be difficult for some to accept and this is not a position we take lightly.

“It’s now a difficult, in fact painful, truth that the focus on criminal investigations is increasingly unlikely to deliver successful criminal justice outcomes, but all the while it continues to divide communities and it fails to obtain answers for a majority of victims and families.”

He told MPs that The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was currently considering almost 1,200 cases which Mr Lewis said would take over 20 years to investigate. He further added it was “increasingly difficult for the courts to provide the families with the answers they are seeking.”

Conservative former prime minister Theresa May said: “The Belfast Good Friday Agreement enabled peace to come to Northern Ireland and opened up the prospect of a much brighter future for that part of the UK.

This comes after SDLP leader Colum Eastwood used parliamentary privilege to name 'Soldier F' who is accused of murdering two men during Bloody Sunday in 1972.