Convincing UK to reverse amnesty proposals will be ‘challenging’ – Taoiseach

Micheál Martin says those who committed murder ‘should be subject to justice’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it will be “challenging” to convince the British government to reverse its decision to grant a blanket amnesty to the perpetrators of all Troubles-related violence and killings committed before the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

In a doorstep interview at Dublin Castle on Wednesday, Mr Martin said that during a telephone conversation with British prime minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, he had stressed the need for consensus between governments, and among all parties in the North, in terms of dealing with legacy issues such as unsolved murders by State actors and paramilitaries.

He said the British government has stated a particular course of action which the Irish Government is not happy with. However, he indicated that it was still possible for other outcomes to come out of the process.

Recounting his conversation with Mr Johnson, the Taoiseach said: “I pointed out there can be no predetermined outcome. There has to be a consensus approach working with all the parties in Northern Ireland.

“We are not happy in terms of the statement they issued. They are stating now it is not predetermined. They are prepared to engage in a process with the other parties.

“We believe those who committed murder should be subject to justice. I pointed out that for some cases here with the gardaí, if there was new evidence I would want those people brought to justice . . . The families want justice at the end of the day.”

In a statement on Tuesday following the phone call between the two leaders, Government Buildings confirmed Mr Martin had raised “serious concerns at the British government’s proposals”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister stressed that the current focus on criminal justice is not working for anyone and looked forward to further engagement with the Irish Government, parties in Northern Ireland and others on the UK’s proposals.”

Asked on Wednesday if the British government had already made up its mind, Mr Martin accepted it was a challenging situation.

“There has been little progress on (the Stormont House Agreement) in recent years. It is extremely important we get progress in relation to the range of proposals contained in Stormont House on legacy issues,” said Mr Martin, speaking after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“It is challenging. We agreed that the Good Friday Agreement is about all parties agreeing on a way forward and unilateralism does not apply.”