Colum Eastwood says amnesty would not be tolerated if victims were from Manchester, Liverpool or London
Colum Eastwood has told the House of Lords Constitution Committee it is inconceivable an amnesty for murders would be tolerated if the victims were from Manchester, Liverpool or London.
Appearing before the committee on Wednesday morning the Derry MP said the British Government's proposal to introduce a statute of limitations for all Troubles-related killings was wrong.
He told the committee the British Government should instead live up to the Stormont House Agreement it signed up to in 2014.
He said the legacy proposals in Stormont House were supported by four of the five political parties in the north, the Irish and British governments, successive US administrations and the European Union.
By contrast, British Secretary of State Brandon Lewis' current proposals had 'united the political parties in Northern Ireland in opposition to them'.
"They have united every single victims' organisation that I have ever spoken to in opposition to them because it is an absolute affront to the rule of law and common decency that you would say to people 'actually now, we are stripping your opportunity', not just for prosecutions because people understand that's not an easy thing to deliver in every case and in many cases, but even to take away the investigations, to take away the opportunity for civil cases and inquests.
"I can't imagine for a second that if any of these incidents had happened in Manchester or Liverpool or London that we would even be contemplating saying 'actually, do you know what? I know your mother was murdered brutally or your son was murdered brutally. We're just going to let that go now.'
"And I understand the argument being made, which is let's draw a line under it, let's move on but I know these victims and they are not going to move on, not because they are stuck in the past but because they have been denied even very basic truths about what happened their loved ones. So there is a principle in my view that you cannot just override," said the Derry MP.
Mr. Eastwood said many victims are still seeking justice and that the legacy of the Troubles is a 'big open wound' that has not been dealt with.
"It hasn't been the case that we have been dealing with legacy. We haven't done it and it hasn't worked and it has infected the political process and destroyed many lives. So there is a responsibility to those victims but there is also a responsibility to the future and I don't believe you can decently, properly build a reconciled future unless you deal with this big open wound which is the legacy of our past.
"I think they have to legislate but they should legislate in line with the agreement that was made by all of us at Stormont House."