Prior to the recent British government announcement about a Troubles amnesty I had raised with the Minister for Foreign Affairs the decision by the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland not to proceed with the prosecution of a solider in relation to charges of murder in Derry on Bloody Sunday.
The recent proposal by the British government to introduce a statue of limitations and end civil cases and inquests linked to the Troubles is totally unacceptable. This proposal, if enacted, would deny families the possibility of justice for the deaths of loved ones.
Below is a reply by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in relation to the decision by the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland –
For Written Answer on : 14/07/2021
Question Number(s): 168 Question Reference(s): 38618/21
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there have been discussions with the British authorities since the recent decision of the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service to discontinue the prosecution of a solider in relation to murders in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972 in view of the widespread concerns on these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am aware of the decision taken by the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland not to proceed with the prosecution of ‘Soldier F’ in relation to charges of murder and attempted murder in Derry on Bloody Sunday, as well as the decision not to prosecute ‘Soldier B’ in connection with the fatal shooting of Daniel Hegarty also in Derry in 1972.
I know that this is deeply upsetting for all the families involved who have spent so many years in pursuit of justice for their loved ones and our thoughts are with all of them. I am aware there is ongoing due legal process, and as such it would not be appropriate to make any additional comment other than to underline the principle that all victims’ families must have access to an effective investigation and to a process of justice in accordance with the law and regardless of the perpetrator.
Officials from my Department are keeping in contact with the families at this time on behalf of the Government.
It is essential that we make progress in addressing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. Our position is that the Stormont House Agreement, which was agreed by the two Governments and political parties, provides the framework to address the legacy of the Troubles. Where the British Government are proposing significant changes to that framework, these must be discussed and agreed by both Governments and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive. Only through a collective approach can we hope to deal with these issues comprehensively and fairly.
At the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 24 June last, we agreed to begin a process of intensive engagement on legacy with the UK Government and the Northern Ireland political parties. The first meetings at working group level have taken place, and meetings should continue throughout the period ahead.
In this current process, the UK Government will have an opportunity to explain their proposals and concerns, as will the parties. The position of the Government has consistently been and remains that the Stormont House Agreement is the way forward, and that where there are concerns around its implementation, we remain open to collective discussion. The objective of this is to find a way forward that can be agreed and that can see progress for families who have been waiting for truth and justice for their loved ones.