Taoiseach says advice of North’s Attorney General difficult for families to follow

Kenny was reacting to question in Dáil on remarks by John Larkin QC, suggesting an end to prosecutions arising from the Troubles

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it would be difficult for families on either side of "a dark time in Northern Ireland" to follow the advice of the North's Attorney General to end prosecutions arising from the Troubles.

Mr Kenny was reacting in the Dáil to a question from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about the remarks made in an RTÉ interview by John Larkin QC.

The Taoiseach referred to the possibility of incontrovertible DNA evidence of the involvement of a person or persons in a killing on either side surfacing.

“As the deputy knows, families want closure and there is always a yearning to find out what happened, who gave the instructions and why it was done,” he said.


Mr Adams said US diplomats Richard Haas and Meghan O'Sullivan were conducting intensive negotiations on outstanding aspects of the Belfast Agreement and other agreements.

Mr Larkin had put forward his ideas for dealing with one aspect: the issue of prosecutions. He had said the current position favoured non-State forces, but that was not the case, said Mr Adams.

"We know that the British government is in breach of a number of international agreements, including some with the Irish Government.

“There is also, to all intents and purposes, a virtual amnesty for British forces and their allies, while thousands of republicans and innocent nationalists have served lengthy prison sentences.”

Mr Adams added that he had not yet had an opportunity to read Mr Larkin’s full submission, but intended to do so.

He called for “some understanding and some measure of reasoned, rational, intelligent and sensitive debate” on issues that would recognise that any mechanism put in place must be victim-centred and on the basis of equality.

Sinn Féin, he said, had proposed that there be an international independent truth recovery process. “Others have different ideas, which is fair,’’ he added.

“We need to take the opportunity to discuss these matters in order that we can move forward in a way which looks after the victims but also builds a future for the survivors.’’

Mr Adams said he was very conscious of the upcoming official visit by President Higgins to Britain and all the other seismic changes seen in our time.

“Those need to be measured and discussed, not just in palaces but on the streets, in the laneways and on the hillsides of this island, most particularly in the North.”

Pressed by Mr Adams for a Dáil debate on the North, Mr Kenny said it would be appropriate to await the recommendations to be made by Mr Haas following his analysis of the situation, and listening to and engaging with various elements in the North.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times