Sinn Fein: British Government ‘covering up’ state killings role

The British Government is trying to “cover up” its role in state killings, Sinn Fein has claimed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley is considering the shape of new structures investigating the toxic legacy of unresolved deaths during the 30-year conflict.

Some MPs and veterans have pressed for a statute of limitations which would protect former soldiers from prosecution.

Ms Bradley has said she does not support the measure and it was omitted from her recent consultation on addressing the past.

Sinn Fein’s local government election manifesto said: “The British Government has sought to cover up its role in the deaths of many Irish citizens and is seeking to introduce an amnesty for those it directed to carry out such killings.

“Sinn Fein will continue to oppose the British Government’s policy on this issue and demand that the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House are implemented in a human rights-compliant manner.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure members of the Armed Forces are not treated unfairly.

He pledged the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues and said serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.

Bloody Sunday bike protest
On Friday thousands of motor bikers demonstrated outside Parliament against the legal action facing former Soldier F and urged the Government to step in to protect veterans from prosecution (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

One former serviceman, Soldier F, is to be prosecuted following the deaths of civil rights protesters shot in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

On Friday thousands of motor bikers demonstrated outside Parliament against the legal action and urged the Government to step in to protect veterans from prosecution.

A statute of limitations is backed by many Conservative backbenchers, including some who are former soldiers.

Many unionists in Northern Ireland have expressed concern it could lead to an amnesty for former republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Sinn Fein launched its manifesto for next month’s local council elections in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

It focused on familiar themes like the “political vandalism” of Brexit, Tory austerity and the need to prepare for a United Ireland.

Leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “Brexit has added to uncertainty and instability.

“Under the Tory and DUP pact funding for health and public services isn’t even enough to stand still and now they seek to impose Brexit against the will of the people.

“This is an unprecedented act of political vandalism. This election is an opportunity to say time is up on Brexit, time is up on the DUP/Tory cuts.”

Sinn Fein is standing 400 candidates across the island of Ireland in the local government elections, including 155 in Northern Ireland.

The party would ban zero-hour contracts which it said had created insecurity and uncertainty for workers.

In Ballymena this morning supporting all our council candidates for the launch of our local government manifesto.Sinn Féin are offering people the opportunity to elect strong, passionate & capable republican representation across the north on 2nd May #VótáilSinnFéin#le19pic.twitter.com/pWYCuzIgAE

— Caoimhe Archibald (@CArchibald_SF) April 15, 2019

It urged the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to do more for communities.

“While PSNI has made progress in working with other statutory agencies such as health boards and social services in order to provide better outcomes for vulnerable people, we are concerned that the police are not properly engaging with local communities and community organisations to find local solutions to problems,” it said.

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