Ireland Assails Possible U.K. Northern Ireland Amnesty Plan
(Bloomberg) -- Ireland’s government assailed a possible U.K. plan to exempt British soldiers and paramilitary groups from prosecution for their actions during decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
“We are very alarmed and deeply disturbed at reports that the British government is even considering acting unilaterally to give immunity to people who committed the worst imaginable offenses during the Troubles,” Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar told RTE Radio. “It couldn’t possibly be even considered” without consent from Northern Ireland’s political parties, he added.
“This doesn’t just apply to victims of violence at the hands of British forces, it also applies to people who are victims of violence at the hands of republicans and also loyalists,” he said.
Media reports have suggested the U.K. government plans to set a statute of limitations on any crimes committed prior to the 1998 peace agreement, which ended the period of violence in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles. The row comes amid rising tension in the region as a result of the Brexit trade agreement between the U.K. and EU. Northern Ireland last month saw the worst violence in years as largely pro-British youths rioted.
How to deal with people accused of carrying out atrocities in Northern Ireland has long been a controversial issue. An agreement between the U.K. and Irish governments along with most political parties in Northern Ireland in 2014 included provision to investigate outstanding crimes associated with the Troubles.
The relationship between the U.K. and Irish governments is “rocky,” Varadkar said. “It’s not as nice as it might have been in the past” but it’s still functional.
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