Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, Remaining Stages

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill proposes to end legal proceedings concerning Troubles-related conduct and provide conditional immunity from prosecution for those who cooperate with investigations conducted by a newly established Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery. The Bill concluded its Committee Stage and had its Report Stage and Third Reading on Monday 4 July 2022.

The new Commission would be responsible for reviewing deaths and other harmful conduct forming part of the Troubles and for publishing its findings. The Bill would also prevent civil claims for Troubles-related conduct and criminal prosecutions for offences not connected to death or serious injury, prevent future inquests into Troubles-related conduct and wind up ongoing inquests which have not reached an advanced stage, and initiate a programme of memorialisation of the Troubles.

Amendment 114 seeks to prevent a person granted immunity under the Act from profiting from the from the conduct in the Troubles which they received immunity for, for example through writing a memoir. Encountering such books may prove traumatic for survivors. I voted to support this amendment, which did not pass, Ayes:209 and Noes: 282.

Amendment 116 would remove the provisions in the Bill that require the closure of existing Troubles related inquests in Northern Ireland. The aim of this Bill is purportedly to provide information for victims and promote reconciliation. Inquests have been an important source of accessing these for those affected by the Troubles. It would be unjust to close inquests now which have already been established, many after long years of campaigning by relatives of victims. I voted to support this amendment, which did not pass, Ayes: 211 and Noes: 282.

Clause 39 is the part of the Bill which addresses Inquests, Investigations and Inquiries. As the Government voted down Amendment 116 to this part of the Bill, I voted against the inclusion of Clause 39. The Clause was included, Ayes: 282 and Noes: 211.

New Clause 5 would mean that where it is conclusively proven that evidence given by a person which has led to them being granted immunity is later found to have been untrue, their immunity can be revoked. I voted to support the New Clause, which was not passed, Ayes:218 and Noes:282.

New Clause 4 would make having received immunity under this Bill an aggravating factor in sentencing for the offence of glorifying terrorism. I voted to support this New Clause, which did not pass, Ayes:220 and Noes: 283.

The Government has not made changes to the Bill to mean that it offers greater benefits to victims than it does to perpetrators of terror. I voted against the Bill at Third Reading, which passed, Ayes: 282 and Noes:217.