NIO still consulting over controversial legacy proposals

Government announced plans last year to introduce legislation to create a statute of limitations which would end all Troubles-era prosecutions.

28 March 2022

Controversial Government proposals on legacy are still being consulted on, the Secretary of State has said.

Brandon Lewis announced last year that he intends to introduce legislation to create a statute of limitations. This would end all prosecutions for incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

The proposals, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

But the plan has been heavily criticised by all the main political parties in Northern Ireland as well as the Irish Government, and a range of victims’ and survivors’ groups.

Mr Lewis said the process has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and that the Government is listening to victims groups, veterans and civic society.

“I think it is right that we’ve taken that extra bit of time to continue engaging which does still continue, not least of all because it’s a highly complex legal area as well,” he told MPs at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Monday.

“We have got to make sure that when we bring forward legislation that ideally has the support, particularly of those who are still seeking information on what happened, but also that its legislation that will hold legally and works to deliver in the way we intend it to. So we don’t have a problem where we deliver something with a very clear intent but it legally then has issues.

“This is an area we are determined to deliver on.”

He added that he agreed with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who last week warned legacy is not something that can be held off indefinitely.

“We need to resolve this because the current system is failing everybody.”

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