Northern Ireland

Troubles legacy plan changes would be 'unacceptable'

Image caption The legacy document outlines plans for dealing with Troubles-related deaths

Sinn Féin has cast doubt over the upcoming multi-party talks after accusing the DUP of "reneging" on proposals dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

The DUP said it was confident there would be significant changes to proposals put out for consultation in 2018.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said this would be "unacceptable".

New talks aimed at restoring devolution are due to begin on 7 May.

Sinn Féin said it had contacted the British and Irish governments over the DUP's claim that significant changes could be made to the plans.

The party's vice-president Michelle O'Neill accused the government of "preparing another side deal with the DUP on the legacy issue".

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "I am confident that the government will respond positively and recognise the voices that have been raised and the concerns that have been made known through the consultation process.

"To do otherwise means this process will go nowhere fast.

"I think that we will see the government bringing forward some proposals to change the legacy arrangements to reflect the concerns of innocent victims and it is right that they do so," he said.

Mr Kelly told BBC News NI the DUP had "reneged" on the proposals.

He said: "I tell you that the families who have been waiting, some of them for 50 years for the truth, will find this unacceptable," he said.

"I can tell you Sinn Féin will find it unacceptable as well.

"This is the DUP reneging again and what does that say about the process we are supposed to be going into next week?"

Unionist criticism

A public consultation process on the legacy of the Troubles was launched by the government in May 2018.

Sinn Féin welcomed the consultation and publication of the the draft bill, saying it was "long overdue" but it was criticised by the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

UUP leader Robin Swann said he feared its proposed investigations unit would "target its activities against former soldiers and police officers".

The legacy consultation document and draft bill outlines plans for:

  • An Historical Investigations Unit which would have a caseload of about 1,700 Troubles-related deaths and aim to complete its work in five years.
  • An Independent Commission on Information Retrieval which would only look for information if asked to do so by families
  • An oral history archive which would collect recorded memories and stories about the Troubles in one place
  • An implementation and reconciliation group with 11 members representing the UK and Irish governments, along with the five biggest Northern Irish political parties

The consultation lasted five months and more than 17,000 responses were received.

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