Sinn Fein urged to agree to inquiry into IRA Troubles killings as part of power-sharing deal

Christopher Hope
Michelle O'Neill led Sinn Fein to a successful election result last week - Clodagh Kilcoyne/REUTERS

Sinn Fein has been urged by the Government to agree to a new inquiry into IRA killings during the Troubles as power-sharing talks begin today.

James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland Secretary, is due to have individual talks with representatives from the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein today.

The news came as Theresa May, Prime Minister, spoke briefly to her Irish counterpart Enda Kenny about Thursday’s elections results, which saw a surge in support for Sinn Fein, under the leadership of Michelle O’Neill, to within a whisker of beating the DUP and left the Stormont Assembly without an overall Unionist majority for the first time.

Stormont - Credit: Peter Morrison/AP

The two leaders agreed to discuss the issue again at the EU council summit in Brussels on Thursday. Officials said the legacy of the Troubles would form part of “confidential” talks.

Sinn Fein will be urged to agree to the implementation of a two-year-old deal to investigate all 3,500 killings in the Troubles.

Last week Mr Brokenshire said criminal inquiries into British soldiers’ conduct must be overhauled to ensure troops are not “unfairly treated or disproportionately investigated”.

James Brokenshire - Credit: Niall Carson /PA

He said investigations were now focused too heavily on finding abuses by security forces. One Government sources pointed out that only 10 per cent of the killings in Northern Ireland in the Troubles were by British soldiers.

One said: “Those 90 per cent of terrorist murders need to be properly investigated and properly relooked at in a proportionate way.”

Sir Gerald Howarth, a former Tory defence minister, urged the UK Government not to “compromise” its position on the investigations in the talks.

Northern Ireland election

He said: “If that means no deal and no new Stormont government, then so be it – we should be ready to return to direct rule.

“We simply cannot have veterans in their seventies who have given their all to protect people in Northern Ireland used as pawns in a power struggle with Sinn Fein."

Johnny Mercer, a Tory MP and former Army officer, said: “The idea that you can put historical allegations on the back burner to sort out later is not good enough. Clearly this matters to people.”

The Troubles


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