Government seeks to ‘end cycle of legacy investigations’ in Northern Ireland

Anger has erupted at plans for a form of amnesty on Troubles prosecutions. Credit: PA

The UK Government has vowed to end the cycle of legacy investigations in Northern Ireland, as the Queen’s Speech said measures will be brought forward to “strengthen” devolution.

The Queen addressed the House of Lords as Parliament was officially reopened on Tuesday.

However, it comes after a row erupted last week at the prospect of a form of amnesty on Troubles prosecutions, sparking anger among victims and politicians from Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The DUP and Sinn Féin both criticised reported plans by Westminster to introduce a statute of limitations on prosecuting offences committed prior to the signing of the 1998 peace agreement.

Accompanying Government papers to the Queen's Speech have now said the new legislation will be set out in the coming weeks.

The papers stated: “The Government is fully committed to introducing legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and will confirm further details in the coming weeks.

“It is clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy of the past is not working well for anybody, with criminal investigations increasingly unlikely to deliver successful criminal justice outcomes and failing to obtain answers for the majority of victims and families.

“The Government will introduce a legacy package that delivers better outcomes for victims, survivors and veterans, focuses on information recovery and reconciliation, and ends the cycle of investigations.”

The Queen delivers her speech Credit: Eddie Mulholland/The Daily Telegraph/PA

The Times and Daily Telegraph reported the statute of limitations plan last week.

The papers claimed the bar on prosecutions would apply to the vast majority of Troubles killings, though an exemption would apply to war crimes, such as torture.

The Stormont House proposals included a new independent investigation unit to re-examine all unsolved killings.