O’Neill calls for party leaders meeting to discuss continuation of legacy talks

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The Sinn Fein vice president has called for a meeting of Northern Ireland’s party leaders to discuss whether to continue the legacy talks process.

Michelle O’Neill said there has been “no meaningful engagement” over legacy since Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced plans in July.

Those included a proposal to end all Troubles prosecutions which has been widely criticised.

Regional cabinet meeting – Bristol
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Government has been set to consult with political parties and victim groups before introducing legislation in the autumn.

However in a letter to the British and Irish governments, Michelle O’Neill said there had been “little progress on commitments from the governments to a process of intense engagement”.

She said she has written to Mr Lewis and the Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney urging them to convene an urgent party leader roundtable meeting on legacy issues.

“That meeting should discuss whether there is any value in continuing with the so-called ‘Multi-Party Talks on Legacy’ trumpeted by the two governments in a joint communique on June 28,” she said.

“To date there has been no meaningful engagement on the issues.

“There has been an absence of papers, no notes taken of meetings and three months on since the governments’ pledge of a process of intense engagement, no working groups have been established.”

Ms O’Neill also voiced concern at a lack of independent international input to the legacy process.

“I have yet to get any satisfactory response about why this has not progressed or about the British government’s intentions,” she said.

“The British government has delayed implementation of the Stormont House Agreement for seven years.

“It’s difficult to come to any other conclusion than the British government is running down the clock until it brings forward its discredited amnesty proposals.

“That is unacceptable.

“It is my view that there is an immediate need to convene a party leaders’ roundtable to review the process to date and determine whether there is a process worth continuing.”

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