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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA

British Govt Coverup Continues


Sinn Féin Vice President and joint First Minister Michelle O'Neill, MLA

Irish News

Michelle O'Neill

The British government is refusing to implement the Stormont House Agreement and at the end of the month says Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill.

“This British government has set itself against the investigation of its role in the conflict over the last 50 years. Their intent is to devise legal protections for its state and security agencies.

This British government and successive British Prime Ministers - despite evidence of collusion - have refused a public inquiry, committed to at Weston Park in 2001, into the state killing of Pat Finucane.

It is in this context that they have also refused to implement the Stormont House Agreement legacy mechanisms.

The Stormont House Agreement (2014) created an opportunity to engage with the contested issue of how this society deals with its past.

It was painstakingly negotiated by the Irish and British governments and local political parties. It offered a way forward but the British government's approach to dealing with the legacy of the past reflects a well-tested template.

It fails to implement political agreements and uses legal processes to resist disclosure, investigation, and accountability.The British government's intent is to close down any avenue for historic investigations - and in so doing - facilitates immunity for state agents over the right of victims to access truth and justice. That is the context of the PPS decision.

From 2014 the British government has stonewalled on this issue. It knows that any solo run on legacy matters will hardly secure the support or agreement of the other parties.

That explains why on March 18, the British Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, demonstrated significant bad faith as he sought to rewrite the Stormont House Agreement.

Downing Street's policy on legacy matters is the absolute protection of its military and security personnel. It is a strategy to avoid any legal investigation of their role in the conflict, closing down avenues pursued by families for information, disclosure and accountability.

Using legal process, however, to conceal the truth is nothing new. The Widgery Inquiry into Bloody Sunday set the template for cover up and lies.

Pat Finucane, murdered human rights lawyer

More recently, Downing Street's political resistance to hold a public inquiry into the state killing of Pat Finucane further demonstrates the lengths the state will go to facilitate impunity for state actors. This despite recognition by the British Prime Minister David Cameron that the killing of Pat Finucane was “as bad as it gets”.

The failure to hold a full public inquiry is not just about failing to deal with past but a failure to uphold the rule of the law.

The decision by the Public Prosecution Service - to seek and receive advice from the British government in a case where its agents and forces were involved in state killings - raises serious and fundamental questions for the PPS's role in historic investigations.

It reinforces the need for the PPS to be independent and impartial and capable of holding state agents and agencies to account for historic crimes. Not to do so seriously risks undermining confidence in the rule of law and administration of justice.” 

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