British government has acted in bad faith on legacy – O’Neill

Sinn Féin. Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today that the British government has acted in bad faith by breaking its commitments on legacy in the Stormont House and New Decade New Approach agreements.

And she called for the convening of an Irish and British government summit to progress all outstanding legacy matters and prevent any further deviation by the British government from its internationally binding agreements at Stormont House.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“The pension scheme ruled on today in the courts was not an Executive scheme. It was legislated for at Westminster and the regulations and guidance have the NIO’s fingerprints all over them. However, the Executive is being forced to implement it.

“It is not the type of scheme envisaged under the Stormont House Agreement and is completely inconsistent with the legal and agreed definition of a victim. 

“It remains a matter of huge concern that this Westminster scheme was designed without input or consultation from Executive Ministers or indeed parties in the Assembly. This represents yet another manifestation of British bad faith in Ireland.

“It is a matter of concern that the pension is being progressed while the British government has not fulfilled its New Decade New Approach commitments to legally implement the Stormont House Agreement. Instead its focus is on giving legal protection to British armed forces who killed or injured Irish citizens during the conflict, in line with legislation currently going through Westminster for British forces involved in recent conflicts overseas.

“I remain convinced that this scheme will be exclusionary, discriminatory and divisive.  Its policy intent was and remains to create a hierarchy of victims, and reinforce the British state narrative around the conflict.

“As joint Head of Government I remain committed to delivering a scheme, which is based on equality and open to everyone who was seriously physically and psychologically injured during the conflict. 

“In light of the court ruling, therefore, I am left with no alternative other than to designate a department.

“However, that designation will require the Executive to work together to secure the additional funds from Westminster for the cost of the scheme and get further clarity on eligibility and applications.

“Sinn Féin is also calling for the convening of an Irish and British government summit to progress all outstanding legacy matters to offset further attempts by the British government to bring in new legacy legislation that deviates from the Stormont House Agreement.”