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Sir Keir Starmer has said that Labour will oppose controversial UK Government legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The Labour party leader said his party will not back the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
“We will not support that legislation,” he confirmed during a visit to Belfast to meet political leaders.
Sir Keir was also in Dublin on Thursday, where he meet senior Irish Cabinet ministers and Taoiseach Micheal Martin.
“We will vote against that legislation because it doesn’t have the support of any of the political parties here in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It doesn’t have the support of victims’ groups here in Northern Ireland, some of whom have told me themselves they haven’t even been consulted.
“And it hasn’t got the support of the Irish Government.
The UK Government has said the planned legislation aims to provide better outcomes for victims, survivors and veterans.
Introduced to the Commons last month, the legislation if passed would offer immunity to people who are deemed to have co-operated with an information retrieval body.
The Bill would also stop future inquests and civil actions related to the Troubles, although it does not fully close the door to criminal prosecutions.
It has been widely condemned by Northern Irish political parties, as well as victims’ campaigners, the Irish Government and Amnesty International.
“If I have learnt anything in the years that I worked here in Northern Ireland and over the 20 years I have been engaged with Northern Ireland, you don’t proceed in Westminster with controversial legislation when it doesn’t have the backing of the political parties, victims’ groups here in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government,” Sir Keir said.
Sir Keir’s meetings in Belfast on Friday included one with Alliance leader and Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long.
Mrs Long said she had stressed the importance of Labour opposing the legacy legislation at Westminster during their discussions.
“Whilst all eyes at the moment are on the protocol and legislation on that, the issue with legacy is not just an egregious breach of international norms and international law but it is a complete breach of trust in terms of the victims and their families,” she said.
“And it is a complete and egregious interference with the independence of the justice system in Northern Ireland.
“We implored the Opposition to be robust in their response to that Bill.
“This is not a proposal which requires minor adjustment; this is a proposal that requires to be binned.”