The Irish government is “deeply alarmed” by reports that London is preparing to ban the age-old trials of crime problems committed during decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.
The Irish government has said it is “deeply alarmed” by the UK’s plans to unilaterally denounce historic trials for crimes committed during a bloody decades-long sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday afternoon that the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will introduce legislation next week banning the prosecution of UK veterans who served in the province amid The Troubles, which ended with a 1998 peace agreement.
It is reported to apply to paramilitaries as well as UK troops, and will prevent anyone from being charged with incidents in Northern Ireland prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, except in cases of crime. war, genocide or torture.
Dublin quickly opposed the reported plan, and Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday that ministers were “deeply alarmed” by the idea and would not support the move.
“Anything like that should have the agreement of the parties in Northern Ireland and it is something we would not support as a government because we are on the side of the victims. They have a right to justice,” Varadkar told the Irish parliament.
He added that the informed plan would also breach a 2014 agreement between Dublin, London and parts of Northern Ireland that sought to address inherited issues related to The Troubles by establishing an independent investigative unit to re-examine all unsolved murders.
Varadkar’s comments were echoed on Thursday by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who said Dublin was opposed to any “unilateral action on the legacy”.
“Victims and NI [Northern Ireland] it must be the priority, the only priority! “Coveney tweeted.
Overall, more than 3,600 people have been killed in clashes between mostly Catholic nationalists pushing for a united Ireland and mostly pro-UK or loyal Protestant unionists, and allegations of unsolved crimes remain a controversial issue.
“A cynical movement”
A Johnson government spokesman told the AFP news agency that he had “clear goals” to address The Troubles ’legacy while fulfilling the 2019 Prime Minister’s election commitments to veterans who served in Northern Ireland.
During the campaign, Johnson pledged to end the “vexatious” processes of British military personnel.
“We want to deal with the past in a way that helps society in Northern Ireland to look ahead rather than step back,” the spokesman said.
They added that it was “clear to everyone that the current system for dealing with the legacy of problems does not work for anyone.”
But Northern Ireland Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill, the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party leading the power-sharing government with its former pro-UK enemies, said banning the trials would be “a move cynical that will put British forces beyond the Act. “
The nationalist SDLP party also said it would strongly oppose any legislation.
The ban on processes could add tensions to the region, where loyal youths revolted in recent weeks, in part because of post-Brexit trade barriers, which they believe have separated them from the rest of the UK.
There are currently several proceedings against British veterans deployed in Northern Ireland.
A trial for the murder of two former British soldiers accused of shooting an Irish Republican army commander for lack of evidence collapsed on Tuesday.
The separate trial of a soldier accused of killing 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights protesters in Derry / Londonderry in 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on the group against what became known as “Bloody Sunday”, continues.