Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he will consider legal action if controversial Legacy Bill becomes law

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he will consider legal action if controversial Legacy Bill becomes law

LEO VARADKAR has told the Dáil he will consider legal action if the British Government's controversial Legacy Bill becomes law.

The Taoiseach was responding to a question from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who described the Bill as 'shameful'.

The Bill, which began its report stage through the House of Lords today, would offer conditional immunity for those who cooperate with a proposed Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

However, critics have said it will deny justice to families who have been fighting for decades.

'Owe it to the victims'

In the Dáil, Ms McDonald asked the Taoiseach if the Irish Government would launch an interstate case to the European Court of Human Rights should the Bill go through.

In response, Mr Varadkar said: "If it is enacted and becomes law, we will at that point give consideration as to whether an interstate case would be appropriate.

"We do not rule that out."

The Taoiseach also reiterated the Government's opposition to the Bill, saying it was 'entirely the wrong approach to give former army servicemen and former IRA and paramilitary terrorists immunity from prosecution'.

"We owe it to the victims to make sure we all do everything we can to make sure any information that can be given to the police is given to the police and that those people are prosecuted, if at all possible," he added.

'Rights of victims at risk'

This evening, Ms McDonald again highlighted the widespread concerns over the Bill — which is opposed by all of Northern Ireland's main parties — and urged the Taosiech to meet with those affected.

"These very real concerns are shared by victims and families, human rights experts, the UN, all the political parties on this island, as well as officials in the US and EU," she said.

"Yesterday, the Council of Europe added their voice to the calls for the legislation to be stopped.

"In a statement, the council's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatoviç, warned it would violate Britain's international obligations and put victims' rights at risk.

"I am also urging the Taoiseach to meet with victims' groups as soon as possible to discuss their concerns about this shameful Legacy Bill and their continued campaigns for truth and justice."

The report stage of the Legacy Bill in the House of Lords will continue until next week.