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Villiers comments on legacy nothing new - Kelly

11 February, 2016 - by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said today there is nothing new in a statement made by the British secretary of state on the issue of the legacy of the past. 

And Gerry Kelly said the British government must stop hiding the truth about its role in the conflict if a resolution is to be found which meets the needs of victims and survivors. 

Gerry Kelly said:

"There is nothing new in Theresa Villiers’ latest comments on her government’s failure to meet its commitments to the disclosure of information to the families of victims of the conflict.

"Theresa Villiers wants a veto on disclosure on the state’s role in the conflict. She continues to attempt to block the release of documents from the Public Records Office, which are already widely available.

"She also makes the bizarre claim that disclosing such information could compromise security despite the fact that many legacy cases are more than 40 years old and the issue of protecting current methodologies has been dealt with as outlined in our two options papers presented to both governments. 

"She claims that embarrassment to the state is not a good enough reason to prevent disclosure. In reality the British state continues to refuse to give long-suffering families the information they are entitled to.

"Sinn Féin has offered options about how the release of documents can be done in a way which does not endanger lives.

"The first option was for the Director of the Historical Investigation Unit (HIU) to have full discretion on onward disclosure of information to families, free of any veto by the British government.

"This would be similar to the powers the Police Ombudsman has in this respect.

"The second option, was the creation of an independent and international appeal panel. This would incorporate three judges, one each appointed by the British and Irish governments respectively, and a third international judicial figure appointed jointly by both governments. 

"This panel would adjudicate on appeal applications and determine whether to uphold or quash any veto on information made by the British Secretary of State.

"However, the British government has rejected both options and instead has continued to invest in hiding the truth about the state’s role in the systematic murder of its own citizens including Pat Finucane, Sinn Féin elected representatives and activists and hundreds of others.

"The British government continues to peddle the myth of a few rotten apples in the security forces, ignoring the reality of a policy of state sanctioned murder, driven and directed by Downing Street. 

"Theresa Villiers had the opportunity to show her government is serious about addressing legacy issues beyond mere rhetoric by delivering on its commitment for a full inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane; yet again it has failed to do so."

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