London, Jul 14 (EFE).- The United Kingdom government announced Wednesday its plan to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past which would include a statute of limitations on crimes related to The Troubles before 1998, halting all prosecutions of British soldiers and militants involved in all Troubles-related incidents.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis outlined the plan in a statement to the House of Commons, which he said was “a painful recognition of the reality of where we are”.
“We know that the prospect of the end of criminal prosecutions will be difficult for some to accept, and this is not a position that we take lightly. But we have come to the view that this would be the best way (…) to help Northern Ireland move further along the road to reconciliation,” Lewis said regarding the statute of limitations.
The minister said it is clear that the current system for dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled recent history is not working.
“It is now a difficult painful truth that the focus on criminal investigations is increasingly unlikely to deliver successful criminal justice outcomes, but all the while it continues to divide communities and fails to obtain answers for a majority of victims and families,” he added.
Ireland’s prime minister Micheal Martin rejected the deal, saying it was unfair “for many, many reasons.”
Northern Ireland’s main political parties also opposed the move. The deal will be “rejected by everyone in Northern Ireland who stands for justice and the rule of law,” said the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
Lewis said the plan would include three parts in total, the statute of limitations being one of them.
The deal will also set up an independent body that would focus on the recovery of information on all Troubles-related deaths to help families find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones.
“Where families do not want the past raked over again, they would be able to make this clear. But for those families that want to get answers, the body would have full powers to seek access to information and find out what happened,” Lewis said.