There should be no more criminal prosecutions in Troubles related murders, the North’s attorney general has proposed.
John Larkin QC said he also favoured ruling out further inquests and other state investigations into the crimes committed during the 30-year conflict.
Mr Larkin, the chief legal adviser to the Stormont Executive, insisted his proposals did not amount to an amnesty.
“More than 15 years have passed since the Belfast Agreement, there have been very few prosecutions, and every competent criminal lawyer will tell you the prospects of conviction diminish, perhaps exponentially, with each passing year, so we are in a position now where I think we have to take stock,” he said.
“It strikes me that the time has come to think about putting a line, set at Good Friday 1998, with respect to prosecutions, inquests and other inquiries.”
Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass is currently trying to achieve political consensus on a number of issues as yet unresolved during the peace process – one of which is how the North Ireland addresses the legacy of its violent past and the seemingly endless unanswered questions over killings carried out by all sides.
Mr Larkin has outlined his proposals in a submission to Dr Haass.
“Sometimes the fact of an amnesty can be that that which was a crime ceases to be a crime. That wouldn’t be the position here, it would simply be that no criminal proceedings would be possible with respect to those offences,” he told the BBC.