The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has warned that the NIO has many questions to answer regarding how it proposes to move forward in dealing with Troubles legacy issues.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“Now that the Stormont Assembly has been restored, time is limited in achieving what is in this present deal. That is particularly pertinent on legacy.
“During the negotiations both prior to and after Christmas, the Secretary of State (SoS) - Julian Smith MP - said that legacy would not form part of the deal. This line was echoed on multiple occasions by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to the Ulster Unionist Party negotiators. Now, in a textbook example of how not to negotiate in good faith, we are faced with a deal that pledges to - within 100 days – ‘publish and introduce legislation in the UK Parliament to implement the Stormont House Agreement, to address Northern Ireland legacy issues.’
“This will be signed off at the Executive and the new Justice Minister will be responsible for delivering the main contentious element, the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).
“With this now rushing towards us, while we deal with the main issues around Health, Education and Infrastructure, it is clear they intend to bounce victims and survivors as well as other stakeholders.
“Therefore it is absolutely imperative that the NIO release their analysis of the Legacy Consultation and not just the raw data they have released so far.
“The public need to be made aware how much this will cost - likely between £300-400 million over 10 years. Other questions also need answers - what happens to the injured where there was no fatality? Will it cover those murdered outside of Northern Ireland? Will the Irish Government hand over all information for investigation, and will it be un-redacted as the UK Government has already committed to do? Also, how many investigators will there be, where will their base of operations be, what will this parallel police force relationship with the PSNI be and who will mediate disputes?
“I shall be writing to the NIO to ask for an immediate meeting with them to discuss when we will get this information. I’m not so sure I will receive a direct answer, given previous experience in our dealings with the NIO and SoS, but the fact remains that victims and survivors deserve answers and I will continue to ask questions on their behalf.”