McGlone: Legacy issues cannot be solved by closing door on justice

SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said the British Government cannot be allowed to shut the door on the prospect of truth and justice for victims and survivors.

He was speaking at Stormont on Tuesday after an SDLP recall petition to show opposition to the British Government’s proposed amnesty for troubles-related crimes.

MLAs backed the SDLP motion rejecting the amnesty.

Mr McGlone said, “Without acknowledgement of past wrongs there can be little hope for reconciliation. It is not just the innocent victims of atrocities by state forces like Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy that door is being shut on – it is the thousands killed, maimed, beaten, and disappeared by the provisional republican movement and loyalist paramilitaries.

“The de facto amnesty that the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has proposed is a re-run of the Northern Ireland Offences Bill in 2005. At the time the SDLP were alone in consistently opposing that Bill. The denial and spin from Sinn Féin did not withstand the scrutiny of victims’ groups, and they were forced to withdraw their support at the last minute.

“The failure to make progress since then on the vital issue of legacy has given the current British Government another opportunity to try to close the deal done in 2005. But attempts to seal off the past are doomed to failure. The poison will not be contained, and it will continue to contaminate the present and the future until it is properly addressed.

“The way to properly address the past is outlined in the Stormont House Agreement – a comprehensive legacy process, through investigations with full police powers. That process requires a commitment by all parties, and the British and Irish Governments to truth, justice, acknowledgement, accountability, and reconciliation.”