Northern Ireland

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson backs new law on definition of victim

Jeffrey Donaldson
Image caption Jeffrey Donaldson read out the names of the Shankill bombing victims at the start of the debate

A DUP MP has urged that the law should be changed so that terrorists are not given the same status as victims.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said it was "an affront to decency" that the law defines terrorists in the same way it defines their victims.

Mr Donaldson told the House of Commons he hoped to change the law regarding the definition of victims with a private member's bill.

The bill is due for a second reading in December.

A similar bill was brought to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2010 but did not become law.

He told MPs: "You cannot equate the perpetrators of terrorist violence with their innocent victims."

His comments came during a DUP-sponsored debate that was called to discuss the legacy of the Troubles.

Mr Donaldson opened the debate by referring to the 20th anniversary of the Shankill bombing.

He read out the names of those who died during the bombing on Belfast's Shankill Road on 23 October 1993. He said those who died "will never be forgotten".


In referring to the events of 1993 his party colleague, Upper Bann MP David Simpson, told the house that "no-one made Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly plant that bomb".

The DUP motion said that those who engaged or supported acts of terrorism "will not succeed" in rewriting the narrative of this troubled period in Northern Ireland's history.

The motion also praised members of the armed forces, the police and the prison service.

North Down MP Lady Hermon used the occasion to praise the work of the RUC during the Troubles. Tributes were also paid by the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers

Image caption Theresa Villiers rejected the assertion the government is not doing enough in NI

Ms Villiers and her Labour shadow Ivan Lewis also clashed over whether the government is doing enough in Northern Ireland.

Ivan Lewis, the new shadow secretary of state, told the Commons that "many people in Northern Ireland think the government is not engaged".

Ms Villiers rejected the assertion and said he had made this allegation before and suggested it simply was not true.


She told MPs that the government was fully engaged with Northern Ireland, the political parties and the Haass talks process.

She said the recent G8 summit and the investment conference in Belfast were examples of how much the government was involved in Northern Ireland.

Mr Lewis's remarks came just days after he warned that the government was "being complacent on Northern Ireland".

This DUP motion was timely and comes as the former US envoy Richard Haass is trying to find political consensus on the past, flags and parading.

Image caption Ivan Lewis has accused the government of complacency over Northern Ireland

South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said the failure "to grasp these issues has cost us dear". The SDLP leader said an agreement among the parties "would inspire hope and create ambition".

Mr Lewis said the Haaas discussions "can not be allowed to fail".

Ms Villiers said the government was fully engaged with the former US envoy and confirmed that she would be meeting him again next week.

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