UK to ban prosecutions for those accused of killings during the Troubles - reports

UK to ban prosecutions for those accused of killings during the Troubles - reports

THE IRISH Government are said to be greatly angered by reports the UK plan to ban prosecutions for all killings which occurred during the Troubles.

These plans, reported by The Daily Telegraph and The Times, will apply across the board-- so there will be no prosecutions for British Army veterans, IRA members or loyalist paramilitary group members.

Legislation is reportedly being written up to introduce a statute of limitations which would see prosecutions for any crimes committed before 1998-- the signing of the Good Friday Agreement-- banned.

It is understood that Britain's Queen Elizabeth will make the announcement in a speech next week. She had previously described the attempted prosecutions of British Army soldiers fr alleged murders during the Troubles as 'vexatious'.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, met with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in Dublin yesterday, however it is understood the planned announcement to ban prosecutions was not raised by Mr Lewis.

Mr Coveney and the Irish Government were aware the UK was considering such plans, and had repeatedly spoke against it, but did not know the legislation would be confirmed as going ahead before reports emerged in the media last night, according to RTÉ News.

A 2014 Stormont House Agreement which gained support from all Irish, Northern Irish and British governments, had proposed an Independent Historical Investigations Unit to examine all Troubles killings in which the perpetrators had not been brought to justice-- the Irish Government remains in support of this, however the new UK legislation could see this scrapped.

The Irish Government fear that the new legislation, and in fact any deviation from the promises made during the 2014 Agreement, would cause untold hurt and anger for families on all sides who lost loved ones during the three decades of the Troubles.

Sinn Féin leader in the north and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, said the planned legislation was a "cynical move that will put British forces beyond the law".

"This is legal protection for those involved in state murder," she said. "This is not acceptable."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said if the reports were true, it would be "the biggest betrayal of victims by the Britih government and will put a huge obstacle in the way of true reconciliation."

He added: "This is the most unprincipled and cynical British government in many years and that’s saying something. An absolute disgrace. Shame on them."

Belfast MP Claire Hanna said "No one wants to ‘move forward’ more than victims & no party craves reconciliation more than SDLP but this doesn’t ‘deal with the past’.

"It abandons rule of law & agreed structures for getting people truth & understanding. This serves killers, uniformed & paramilitary, not victims"