Published on 

Statement by Tánaiste on UK Government Legacy Announcement

The Government has noted the announcement today by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, in relation to dealing with the legacy of the past.

Responding to the announcement, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, today said:

The position of the Government is clear. The Stormont House Agreement framework is the way forward on these issues. It was agreed by both Governments and the political parties after intensive negotiations, and it must be implemented.

Where the UK Government are proposing significant changes to that framework, these must be discussed and agreed by both Governments and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive.

The need for agreement by both Governments to any changes of approach applies importantly and specifically to the legislation that would implement the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval on foot of the Treaty between our two Governments signed in 2015. Any approach has to be coherent across both jurisdictions.

Only through a collective approach can we hope to deal with these issues comprehensively and fairly, and in a way that responds to the needs of victims and survivors, and society as a whole.

In terms of the issues the UK Government has raised today about the treatment of British military veterans, our position is again clear. There should be effective investigations into all Troubles-related deaths, regardless of the perpetrator. We would not support a proposal to introduce any special measure or treatment, regarding investigation of state or non-state actors in Northern Ireland.

The rule of law and the protections afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights must apply equally to everyone and must be upheld, and this principle is at the core of the Stormont House framework.

Victims and survivors have had to wait for far too long for a suitable and effective system in Northern Ireland to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The Government is ready to engage and work with the UK Government and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive in partnership on this very important issue in the period immediately ahead.

I will be speaking to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on this issue to discuss next steps.