DUP discuss devolution and legacy issues with Secretary of State

01 March 2019

DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on Friday morning.

Arlene Foster MLA

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Arlene Foster

The Party’s MEP Diane Dodds also attended the meeting where they discussed the Sinn Fein boycott of devolution as well as the need to address the legacy of the Troubles.

Speaking after the meeting Mrs Foster said,

“Four of the five main parties want to see devolution restored.  Sinn Fein stands as the blockage. This decision is hurting people as reforms in our schools and hospitals are stalled over Sinn Fein’s insistence on Irish language legislation.

We will work with all parties to restore the Executive.  We reminded the Secretary of State that Sinn Fein alone has set pre-conditions.

Whilst Sinn Fein complains from the side-lines, the DUP will continue to deliver for Northern Ireland through Westminster.  I want to see budgets set in Stormont but I’m delighted we were able to make a compelling case to the Chancellor for an extra £140m for immediate pressures such as waiting lists. This is new money and above the £330m also allocated yesterday as part of our C&S deal.”

Turning to legacy Mrs Foster said,

In 1998 victims were ignored and terrorist prisoners were placated.  It was the central reason I opposed the Belfast Agreement. I have urged the Secretary of State to address this.

The Victims Strategy published in 2001 by the then OFMDFM used a victim definition that made no distinction between innocent victim and terrorist.  This definition was then placed in law in the Victims and Survivors ( Northern Ireland) Order 2006. The DUP opposed this.

The 2006 definition of a victim and survivor is indefensible. There is a clear distinction in law between a terrorist perpetrator and their innocent victim.  To equate the two is morally indefensible. A perpetrator of an unlawful act cannot at the same time be a victim of the act they have perpetrated.

Innocent victims universally oppose the current definition of a victim and place it as a top priority to change.  It is an incredible hurt and insult to victims’ families for their loved one to be placed in the same category as terrorist perpetrators.

The Government should bring forward plans now for a new UK-wide definition of a victim with a clear distinction between perpetrator and victim. We believe this could improve the existing climate and context and offer the best prospect of new legacy bodies proving successful.

Anyone who broke the law during the Troubles should be held accountable and brought to justice.  No one should be above the law.  The legacy process must be balanced and fair.  There should be no hierarchy of cases. Everyone has an equal right to justice.”

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