The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has called on the Government to publish the results of the legacy consultation process, which the NIO has been assessing since last October.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“It is eight months since the Public Consultation on Legacy closed and the 17,000 responses have been pored over and analysed by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). This is not just a consultation to inform how Northern Ireland will deal with the legacy of our past; this is a key consultation with factual output that will inform the next step for the whole of the United Kingdom. I believe it should be released now so that political parties, victims groups and the wider public throughout the United Kingdom can make an informed assessment.
“In May 2019 the Secretary of State asked the political parties when we thought the document should be released. We were in the middle of talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, and many thought that unpacking legacy in the middle of the talks could destabilise them. The Ulster Unionist Party disagreed.
“The bottom line is that there is no ‘good time’ to deal with sensitive issues like legacy but we believe there is a duty on the NIO and the Secretary of State to release this consultation, and its factual contents, along with their proposed next step. This should be done before we have a new Prime Minister and before the almost certain departure of the current Secretary of State. That was our advice to Karen Bradley MP and we ask the other parties to join us in lobbying for the release of the findings of the consultation process.
“The Ulster Unionist Party has been very clear all along that we do not support the proposed legacy mechanisms agreed by Sinn Fein and the DUP. We believe the consultation will support our concerns, particularly in regards to the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), and that the next step must reflect the consultation responses. Either way any political agreement to restore Stormont between the five main political parties could well be built on sand if the legacy consultation is released after that agreement is signed.
“That may well be convenient for some but it will not help victims in the long term.”