NI: Government considering legal protection for British soldiers

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

The UK government is considering legislation to protect elderly British soldiers from prosecution for their actions during the Troubles, the News Letter reports.

There is growing speculation that Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire will back legislative measures to prevent more soldiers from being prosecuted.

Speaking to Radio Ulster, Mr Brokenshire was asked about reports that such measures could include an upper age limit on those prosecuted; a five-year time limit on investigations; and a requirement that 90 per cent of state legacy investigation funds must be focussed on paramilitary groups, which claimed 90 per cent of lives.

He said: “I don’t recognise some of the speculation that we have seen in different press outlets over recent weeks but if you look at what was said in the Stormont House Agreement, it underlined that sense of proportionality, of greater equity, in the manner in which investigations are conducted.”

Mr Brokenshire also spoke of his concerns that “the current system means that greater focus is given to state-based cases than others”.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, lent credibility to reports that the rumoured measures are being considered.

He told the News Letter: “As I understand it, this proposal is only at discussion stage within the government and we haven’t yet been given any indication as to if and when such legislation might be forthcoming.

“There is growing support for such an initiative at Westminster and I have had a lot of positive feedback from Conservative MPs following the recent debate in Parliament.”

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