Keir Starmer defends plan to repeal law protecting veterans from prosecution due to ‘lack of support’ in NI

18 June 2024, 10:39 | Updated: 18 June 2024, 10:56

LBC's exclusive phone in with Sir Keir Starmer

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Keir Starmer has defended Labour's plans to repeal the Legacy Act should the party win the election, insisting the bill does not have enough support in Northern Ireland.

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The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act came into effect last September.

It included possible amnesties for those accused of terrorist-related killings and crime during decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Asked by caller Steve, a veteran, why Labour would repeal the act given that it could lead to British veterans being prosecuted but not IRA terrorists, Sir Keir said he was opposed to it for "a number of reasons".

“I’ve got quite a lot of knowledge and experience of the process in Northern Ireland and the history and the aftermath,” Sir Keir told Steve.

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“I’m against it for a number of reasons. The first is it doesn’t have the support of any of the political parties in Northern Ireland,” he continued. “This is the wrong way of doing business.”

He added that the act doesn’t have the support of victims groups either.

Sir Keir said it would not be fair if terrorists who did not receive letters of comfort were not prosecuted, though critics have said it could lead to the prosecution of British veterans.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

The Labour leader continued: “There are very powerful arguments and counter arguments. I do want to find a way through this because I think in the end we have to find a way.

“But doing this in a way which doesn’t have the approval of victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland… and doing it in the teeth of the political parties in Northern Ireland, in my experience having worked in Northern Ireland is not a sensible way to proceed.”

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