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prosecution ban UK government proposals for Troubles 'amnesty' met with anger

Reports say the move will be announced in the Queen's speech on Tuesday

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Naomi Long of Alliance said the British government were treating victims with contempt

Naomi Long of Alliance said the British government were treating victims with contempt

Naomi Long of Alliance said the British government were treating victims with contempt

It is understood the UK government is working on proposals to introduce a ‘blanket ban’ on Troubles prosecutions.

The Times newspaper has reported new legislation will restrict the prosecutions of former British soldiers for offences committed during the conflict in Northern Ireland before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The move would also affect offences committed by paramilitaries, it is understood.

Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein has described the proposed legislation as being a “slap in the face” to Troubles victims, while the Irish government is reportedly against the new legislation and has asked the UK to avoid “unilateral action on sensitive issues”.

She added the move was “cynical”, “not acceptable” and would “put British forces beyond the law”.

The UK government, when asked about the leaked proposals, has said it has “clear objectives” for dealing with the past.

A spokesperson added: "We want to deal with the past in a way that helps society in Northern Ireland to look forward rather than back.

"It is clear to all that the current system for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles is not working for anyone, failing to bring satisfactory outcomes for families, placing a heavy burden on the criminal justice system, and leaving society in Northern Ireland hamstrung by its past."

The proposals were also criticised by Alliance leader Naomi Long who Tweeted: ‘This kind of briefing, before any meaningful engagement with victims' families typifies the contempt with which Govt are treating victims.

‘I believe that they deserve justice where that is possible: however, at they very least, they deserve not to learn of Govt plans on Twitter.’

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland described the plans as ‘an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice’.

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It was also reported previous convictions which have been secured before the new legislation is put in place will still stand.

Meanwhile NI Veteran’s Commissioner Danny Kinahan said on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster: ‘An amnesty is a really hard one for everybody, if you can't investigate why are we spending fortunes on lawyers to get no prosecutions?

‘We should be concentrating on the families and reconciliation and finding a way forward instead of taking things to court.’

The news of the proposals comes in the wake of the collapse of the trial of two paratroopers accused of shooting IRA terrorist Joe McCann in 1972.

It’s understood the new proposals will be announced during the Queen’s speech on Tuesday.

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