‘Amnesty’ will apply to IRA, UDA & UVF, claims MP
Brandon Lewis has admitted legislation to protect British soldiers from prosecution for crimes committed during the conflict will have to be ‘balanced across the community’.
Mr. Lewis this week said he was committed to fulfilling the Conservative party’s manifesto pledge to ‘introduce new legislation to tackle the vexatious legal claims that undermine our Armed Forces.’
Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said such legislation would result in a de facto amnesty that would have to apply equally to republican and loyalists.
“Will the Secretary of State explain very carefully for some people in this House who do not seem to understand that, if an amnesty is given to anybody - for example, if an amnesty is given to soldiers who maybe committed murder on the streets of Derry, Belfast or anywhere else - an amnesty would have to be given to everyone, including IRA members, UVF members and UDA members?” he asked.
Mr. Lewis replied: “The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that whatever we do has to be balanced across the whole community.”
The exchange occurred during a discussion of the NI (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill. Both Tory and DUP MPs denied that what was being sought for British veterans was an amnesty.
Mr. Eastwood said: “I get that it is not his or many other people’s intention to bring about an amnesty, but let me tell him this; we are talking to the British Government every day of the week about this. An amnesty is what you are going to get, because if you say to people, ‘In the early days of the troubles, your case was properly investigated’ - well, it absolutely was not. That is why we are having to go through this process.”
The Derry MP asked who was going to come with him to see relatives bereaved “in any year during the conflict, to tell them that they are not entitled to go through the justice process like everybody else?”
“Come with me and do that any day of the week—I will take you to those victims. If you follow what this British Government intend to do, you will be saying not just to veterans, but to IRA people, UVF people, everyone, that they are entitled to walk the streets free, and that the people who were murdered, and their family members who have been left behind, who have suffered the most and have been left out of this peace process, will just have to wait because once again, we are going to let them down.”