‘There can be no amnesty for terrorists’

Nigel Dodds MP.
Nigel Dodds MP.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has said there can be no amnesty for paramilitaries or others who committed attrocities during the Troubles.

The DUP deputy leader was responding to comments made by the Northern Ireland Attorney General, John Larkin QC, suggesting an effective amnesty for those who were engaged in terrorism before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Mr Dodds, who raised the matter during Prime Minister’s Question Time today (November 20) said: “As a citizen in Northern Ireland, John Larkin has every right to contribute to the Haass discussions and publish his views on dealing with the past. However, I fundamentally disagree with his proposal to provide an effective amnesty for any paramilitary related crime perpetrated before 1998.

“We opposed the Belfast Agreement because it stood the rule of law on its head by releasing convicted terrorists. This proposal would deprive innocent victims of the right to justice. Whilst the odds of anyone being convicted for atrocities of thirty years ago may be very narrow, the recent case of my colleague Sammy Brush proves there is still hope.”

He continued: “The pain, for many victims, is still as raw today as it was when they first were injured or learned of their loss. Any mechanism for dealing with the past must have innocent victims at its core. There have been attempts to re-write the history of the Troubles. Some try to blame our Armed Forces for the Troubles. We must remember that paramilitaries were responsible for 90 per cent of deaths during the Troubles, yet there are few signs of either truth for victims or justice in most of those cases.

“One of the core and founding principles of the Democratic Unionist Party is that everyone should be equally subject to the law and equally treated under it. The Attorney General’s idea runs contrary to that principle and does not command any significant level of support within the community.”