Northern Ireland

Irish government will not support Troubles 'amnesties'

Charlie Flanagan
Image caption Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan said Dublin would not look favourably on proposed amnesties for "state or non-state actors"

The Irish government has said it would not support any proposal to introduce "amnesties from prosecution" when dealing with Troubles legacy cases.

It follows criticism of inquiries by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, who said they focused "disproportionately" on state forces.

But the Irish foreign minister said all unlawful killings must be investigated.

Charlie Flanagan said Dublin would not look favourably on any proposed amnesty for either "state or non-state actors".

A number of former soldiers are currently facing prosecution over killings carried out during the 30-year conflict.

At the weekend, Mr Brokenshire wrote an article for The Sunday Telegraph, saying that existing investigations into more than 3,500 Troubles deaths were "not working".

The Northern Ireland secretary said "the current focus is disproportionately on those who worked for the state - former members of the Armed Forces and the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary]".

He added: "We are in danger of seeing the past rewritten."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Charlie Flanagan met James Brokenshire in Belfast earlier this month as Stormont's power-sharing government collapsed

However, Mr Flanagan said: "There are no amnesties from prosecution provided for in the Good Friday Agreement or any subsequent agreements including Stormont House.

"The Irish government would not look favourably on any proposal to introduce such a measure - for state or non-state actors.

"The rule of law including the requirement for effective investigations of unlawful killings must be upheld by all responsible authorities."

Last week, two of Northern Ireland's most senior legal figures hit back at critics who suggested they had unfairly prioritised Troubles cases in which soldiers or police officers were accused of causing death.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, said he was "insulted" by the claims over a small number of Army prosecutions while Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said it was "simply not correct" to suggest he prioritised inquests in which the State that is being held to account rather than "terrorist organisations".

Mr Flanagan said he supported Sir Declan's 2015 proposals for dealing with 54 legacy inquests and "would like to see them funded and implemented as soon as possible".

"The Irish Government is committed to the architecture set out in the Stormont House Agreement which provides the best framework for dealing comprehensively with the legacy of the past," the foreign minister added.

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