McCartney welcomes legacy consultation responses – ‘Now’s the time to deal with the past’

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Raymond McCartney  has welcomed the publication of the responses to the British government’s consultation on draft legislation and the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House.

Raymond McCartney  said there must now be an end to the British government’s stalling in implementing the mechanisms and he said a time frame needs to be set out to bring forward the required legislation.

The Foyle MLA said:

“It is now almost five years since the two governments and political parties agreed a range of mechanisms at Stormont House to deal with the legacy of the past on the basis of equality, dignity and respect for all.

“Since then Sinn Féin has been calling for the full implementation of those mechanisms for legislation to underpin them. That draft legislation, after much stalling by the British government, was finally put out to consultation last year.

“Over 17,000 people and organisations responded to the consultation on the draft legislation and the legacy mechanisms.  

“That is a clear indication of the demand from the families of victims for access to truth and justice and the necessary support services and I welcome publication of the responses to the consultation.

“We welcome the wide support from respondents for the legacy mechanisms, support for adequate resources for the Police Ombudsman’s Office, until the HIU is up and running,  and for the Lord Chief Justice’s five-year plan to tackle the backlog of legacy inquests.

“A majority of respondents have roundly rejected a Statute of Limitations or amnesty for British State Forces.

“Sinn Féin has rigorously opposed any and every attempt to introduce immunity for crimes committed by British soldiers in Ireland. We will continue to support the victims.

“There is also clear concern that National Security should not be used or abused to prevent families accessing the truth about the deaths of their love ones.

“Sinn Féin notes that the British government restates its commitment to the implementation of the structures agreed at  Stormont House. What is required now is that the British government urgently sets out a time frame to bring forward legislation for the legacy structures. 

“Some families have been waiting almost 50 years on truth and justice. There can be no more stalling or protracted and unnecessary delays. The opportunity to deal with the past is now. The time to engage with the past is now.

“Any further delays or stalling from the British Government will only serve to undermine public confidence in the consultation, undermine the policy intent of the Stormont House Agreement and more worryingly further disappoint and alienate victims.”