The British government is still refusing to engage in intensive discussions aimed at resolving the impasse over legacy issues, almost a year after the Fresh Start Agreement was signed.
That was the message from deputy First minister Martin McGuinness today who revealed he has written to British Prime Minister Theresa May in a last-ditch attempt to bring her government back to the talks table.
Martin McGuinness said:
“Unfortunately we are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the British Government isn’t serious – and never was serious – about resolving the outstanding legacy issues which were not concluded in the Fresh Start Agreement.
“It is our view those issues could be resolved through a short, intensive dialogue and we have made repeated requests to the British Government to enter into such a process.
“I have personally made requests directly to Prime Minister Theresa May, Secretary of State James Brokenshire and his predecessor Theresa Villiers. And despite repeated assurances that the British would enter into meaningful dialogue, they have continually failed to do so.
“Almost a year after the signing of the Fresh Start Agreement, I believe that it is a damning indictment of the British Government’s intentions.
“Nevertheless, even at this late stage, our negotiation team is still ready and prepared to engage and today I have written to Theresa May urging her to finally begin substantive talks to resolve this issue and unlock the institutions envisaged in the agreement.”
However, the Sinn Féin MLA is sceptical about how Downing Street will react to his latest intervention.
He said: “I think anyone watching the Conservative Party conference will conclude that the British State is only concerned with protecting its own forces and its own interests.
“They are seeking to exempt their soldiers from prosecutions under the European Convention of Human Rights. They are still refusing to grant the Lord Chief Justice’s repeated requests for funding of legacy inquests.
“Those are not the actions of an administration that is serious about addressing the legacy of the past and assisting families to get truth and justice for their loved ones.
“Those are the actions of an administration which is only interested in continuing to cover up its role in the conflict here and elsewhere.”