Keir Starmer vows to repeal Northern Ireland’s controversial amnesty law if elected

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to overturn a controversial attempt to impose an amnesty for atrocities committed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland if a bill going through the UK Parliament becomes law if the party wins the next office .

In a speech on Friday angering the British government, Starmer told political and civil society leaders in Belfast that the problems in Northern Ireland (legacy and reconciliation) invoice was wrong”.

“We wouldn’t do it and we would repeal it if it was in the statute book when we came to power,” he said to applause.

Starmer added that the bill shows “how far this Conservative government has strayed in recent years from a genuine understanding of the principles and values ​​of the Good Friday Agreement.” The 1998 agreement, brokered in part by Sir Tony Blair, then Labor Prime Minister, helped end three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

“No government in Westminster should ever, I think, introduce legislation that doesn’t have the support of any of the political parties in Northern Ireland and the victims who are at the center of it,” said Starmer, who served as human rights adviser to the United States between 2003 and 2007 Police Council of the region.

The UK government is now defending the bill in the House of Lords and has previously said that given the difficulty of getting convictions after half a century, a clean sheet must be drawn from the past.

She wants to end investigations into Troubles crimes but has promised to set up an independent body with powers to conduct criminal investigations.

Ministers have said they have proposed amendments to address the concerns expressed, acknowledging that “this law will remain a challenge for many”.

The UK government’s Northern Ireland office initially did not comment on Starmer’s speech.

Gráinne Teggart, deputy director for Northern Ireland at the advocacy group Amnesty International, said it was “not too late” for London to scrap a law that “mockers the rule of law and denies justice to victims, while condemning the perpetrators of murder and torture.” protects and other serious crimes”.

Speaking at Queen’s University, Starmer pledged a “mature approach” to politics in the region – which has been paralyzed by divisions over post-Brexit trade deals – should Labor win the next UK general election.

Meanwhile, he offered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak his party’s support to pass a deal at Westminster on the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol without the backing of influential Eurosceptic Tory MPs, whom he described as “sirens who always hold Northern Ireland back”.

“The time to put Northern Ireland above a Brexit purity cult that can never be satisfied is now,” he said.

Starmer was in Belfast as a diplomatic push to finalize a UK-EU deal ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday deal on April 10, which has been stepped up after the first tangible breakthrough this week.

Northern Ireland’s political institutions have been paralyzed since last May’s election as the Democratic Unionist Party, the largest pro-British force, calls for sweeping changes to protocol.

Chris Heaton-Harris, British Foreign Secretary for Northern Ireland, will face a legal deadline on January 20 to call new elections between March 2 and April 13 if, as is likely, the power-sharing executive has not returned by then is.

However, he is widely expected to delay calling a vote. He told reporters Thursday, “I have 12 weeks to think about what I need to do.”

https://www.ft.com/content/20b6a5df-92fb-4eb2-8cdd-0ab17a6422f0 Keir Starmer vows to repeal Northern Ireland’s controversial amnesty law if elected

Adam Bradshaw

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