North-South united in opposition to British amnesty plan for Troubles

North-South united in opposition to British amnesty plan for Troubles

The North-South Ministerial Council is united in its opposition to an amnesty for those involved in the Troubles, the Taoiseach has said.

The North-South Ministerial Council is united in its opposition to an amnesty for those involved in the Troubles, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheál Martin hosted the twenty-sixth plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) via video conference on Friday after months of strained relations between the Irish government and unionist representatives.

The Taoiseach was joined by the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and members of the Cabinet who met collectively with the Northern Ireland Executive, led by First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

The Taoiseach says he will continue to advocate for the Stormont House Agreement, which was already agreed by the British on how to deal with legacy proposals.

Boris Johnson and the Conservative government have since highlighted that they plan to push forward with a so-called amnesty for all those involved in violence in Northern Ireland.

"We are in agreement with all the parties in Northern Ireland and opposing the British government's position on this and proposals on this and I've communicated that to Boris Johnson," Micheál Martin said. 

"Our view is that the victims of atrocities, that the families of those victims, need justice, where justice can be provided and the fullest information available.

"Our agencies and our governments should and must cooperate in terms of providing the information for the families of victims.

We have the case of the murder of Tom Oliver, for example. Are we seriously suggesting that if the Gardaí made progress in terms of finding the killers of Tom Oliver, they would not be prosecuted?

"The same applies in respect of British soldiers who committed crimes against civilians. Same applies to collusion, no matter where it takes place or took place on the island. 

"I think we always have to have a high standard in relation to the loss of life."

DUP First Minister Paul Givan said he wanted to see "a victim-centred approach to this".

"We have to make sure that the focus here is on facilitating that truth and justice," he said.

Mr Givan said the focus should be mostly on "90% of killings perpetrated by terrorist organisations", including individuals who fled across the border into the Republic. 

Sinn Féin leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, said the society will struggle to move forward unless it deals with the past.

"So the proposals by the British government are absolutely outrageous. They're based on the premise of vexatious claims against British state forces whenever we know that is a bogus argument.

"I can count on one hand the number of British state actors that have ever been prosecuted for their role in the conflict, but I certainly could say that almost 25,000 citizens here, on the island of Ireland, actually went to jail as a result of actions in the conflict."

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