NI Minister brands proposed legacy legislation 'personally extremely challenging'

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill has proved controversial. Credit: PA images

A Northern Ireland minister says he finds the government's controversial legacy legislation "personally extremely challenging".

Lord Caine made the comments as the House of Lords debated the bill, which proposes to grant immunity from prosecution in certain circumstances.

The proposed law would provide an effective amnesty for those suspected of troubles killings if they agree to co-operate with a new truth recovery body.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, which has started its passage through the Lords after clearing the Commons, would also prohibit future civil cases and inquests related to Troubles crimes.

It has been almost universally opposed by parties across the political divide in Northern Ireland as well as all victims groups.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told MPs that he would make changes to it but did not specify what they would be.

In an unusual move, reflecting the contentious nature of the draft legislation, Labour leader in the Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon has proposed a so-called regret motion at the Bill's second reading.

The critical opposition amendment notes "that the provisions contained in the Bill do not command the confidence or support of groups and organisations representing the interests of victims and survivors of the Troubles, of Northern Ireland elected representatives, or of the wider community, including communities across the United Kingdom affected by the Bill".

Meanwhile church leaders in Northern Ireland have warned the proposals will deepen division.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland said the bill 'won't serve reconciliation.'

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