Ulster Unionist Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has stated it is now clear that the NIO do not understand the depth of issues around legacy but are still desperate for the legacy proposals to gain political and public support.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“It has now become absolutely clear that the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) is desperate for the new legacy mechanisms, including the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), to receive political and public support.
“The NIO`s approach seems to be to ask that political parties, and indeed the public, sign up to the legacy mechanisms and then, once in place, a process of change could take place. As far as the Ulster Unionist Party is concerned, that won`t wash. The legacy proposals are structurally flawed. The proposed legacy legislation is extremely descriptive and prescriptive which would not allow for substantive change.
“They don`t address the definition of a victim; families who had received an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review won`t be given the opportunity to have a HIU investigation; those injured during the Troubles will be ignored by legislation purely because they survived, as outlined by the Human Rights Commission; and those families whose loved ones were murdered outside Northern Ireland will not receive an investigation under the HIU. I could list many more issues which make the proposals unacceptable.
“There has been a deafening silence from both the DUP and Sinn Fein on these issues, which raises concerns given that it was these two parties who brokered this legacy deal.
“How can any individual or political party sign up to legislation knowing these key issues have not been dealt with even before we look at issues surrounding the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval, the Oral History Archive and the Independent Reconciliation Group. It is now clear that the NIO do not understand the depth of issues around legacy if their big idea is to just sign a deeply flawed bill and then attempt to fix it later. It`s an absolutely incredible stance.
“The PSNI is the police service that all five main political parties support, at least in public. In dealing with legacy it should be properly resourced to the level envisaged by the Stormont House Agreement, staffed to the level envisaged by the Patton report and supported by government legislation that will stop vexatious complaints or endless judicial reviews by some who are using the legacy of the Troubles to line their pockets.”