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British government cannot be allowed to have veto over disclosure - McCartney

23 April, 2016 - by Raymond McCartney

There is no doubt that legacy issues arising out of the conflict need to be addressed if we are to move forward.

In every negotiation we as a Party have attempted to find a way in which that all these related issues can be addressed. 

Our position is clear.

However we are not prepared to enter a process – which gives a power to the British government to determine what information it can disclose and what information it cannot disclose.

In the Stormont House Agreement the British government agreed that the Historical Investigation Unit would have full access to information.

However the draft legislation proposed that the British Secretary of State would have a veto on disclosure.

This is unacceptable as it does not address the need for truth. 

It is also unacceptable to many families seeking truth and most of the campaigning groups. 

Indeed in the Fresh start negotiations the British Government introduced the added pretext of “ British National Security’ as a way of blocking disclosure.

We opposed this – and with the support of families - we detailed a range of options to offset this blocking mechanisms.

It is based on three key principles

The disclosure of information cannot be allowed to endanger anyone’s life or safety.

Disclosure of information cannot be used to damage the effectiveness of current methodologies for the prevention of damage to what are view as ‘National Security’.

It cannot be used as a reason to withhold information in relation to the death or serious injury, serious human rights abuses, and must be Article 2 compliant.

These principles would be monitored and assessed by the introduction of an independent panel or giving the Historical Investigations Unit the same discretionary powers as the Police Ombudsman.

Our position remains that legacy, the need for truth is a necessary part of national reconciliation and we will continue in our efforts to ensure a credible process is in place but we will not permit the British government to abdicate address its responsibilities – this issue can be resolved. 

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