THE DUP’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds said today there should be “no amnesty” for terrorists who committed crimes before the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The North Belfast MP was responding to the comments of the Northern Ireland Attorney General, John Larkin QC suggesting an effective amnesty for those who engaged in terrorism before 1998.
Mr Larkin’s comments to BBC Northern Ireland have provoked fury from victims and also met with a cool response from political parties.
The only party to back him is N121 headed up by Basil McCrea and John McAllister.
Mr Dodds raised the matter in Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.
He told the Prime Minister: “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.
“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 dealing with the Past must have innocent victims at its core.
“There have been attempts to re-write the history of Troubles. Some try to blame our Armed Forces for the Troubles.
“We must remember that paramilitaries were responsible for 90% 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”, added Mr Dodds.