Derry MP Colum Eastwood uses maiden speech to attack Boris Johnson's amnesty for soldiers, Brexit policy and bridge to Scotland

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood used his maiden speech as new Foyle MP this afternoon to attack Boris Johnson's proposed amnesty for British soldiers suspected of committing atrocities in Ireland during the recent conflict.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 6:28 pm

Addressing MPs in the British House of Commons on Thursday evening he said: "I come from a place called Derry and in 1972 14 innocent civil rights marchers were gunned down by the British Army on the streets of Derry. They were demanding their rights.

"They were marching against internment and an international tribunal has stood by the fact that they were innocent and they were unlawfully killed.

"Is prosecuting those veterans vexatious? No it is not. We will resist this attempt to undermine our peace process and our political progress and this insult to victims, all of the victims of our terrible, terrible past, and their opportunity, that has been denied to them since 1998, to find full truth and full justice.

Colum Eastwood has made his maiden speech as Derry MP.

"We stand by every single one of those victims no matter who the perpetrator was and people on opposite benches need to understand this: if you bring in an amnesty for the British Army you will end up with an amnesty for everybody.

"That is the door that you are opening up.with this proposal. So it would better suit this Prime Minister and this Government to stand by all of the victims, all of the innocent victims that have been searching for truth and justice for far too long."

Mr. Eastwood went on to pour scorn on the British Prime Minister's suggestion that he may erect a bridge between Ireland and Scotland.

The SDLP leader said it would fit him better to invest in the A6.

"A proposal has been mentioned today by a number of people including the Prime Minster who says 'watch this space'. They want to build a bridge, build a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland. Well they would be much better suited building a decent road from Belfast to Derry."

The new Foyle MP equally attacked the Conservative Government's Brexit policy.

"I stand here as an Irish nationalist. In fact I stand here because I'm an Irish nationalist, not in spite of it, because I believe that every single person in all of our constituencies needs to be properly and fully represented.

"So, I'm glad to be here but we are not narrow nationalists. We come from the tradition of Parnell and Hume. Our vision is big and it is broad and our mission is to unite all of our people, not divide them any further, so we intend to represent nationalists, unionists and everybody else, and we will do that to the best of our ability.

"This Prime Minster is about to drag us out of the European Union against our will. And I know he has got a huge majority but the only majority that I'm concerned about is the pro-Remain majority in Northern Ireland that has thankfully now got its voice back in this place.

"We may be few in number but we intend to be very, very loud in voice. The Prime Minister's approach to Brexit is totally reckless. It drives a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement, the relationships we have built up over many years right across our community and right across our islands.

"And I'm glad to see now that the DUP are very concerned about the checks between this island and our island. It's a pity they didn't think about that when they drove the Brexit agenda, when they rejected Theresa May's deal, and now we are in a situation that none of us are happy with.

"We are in a situation that every one of us should be trying to reverse and reject," said the new MP.