UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached an agreement with Stormont’s five main parties on the weekend, to mark the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland. But it has emerged the small print of the deal could spark new probes into thousands of veterans that allegedly committed crimes during the Troubles. Senior Tories have branded the move as “completely unacceptable”, as Mr Johnson has repeatedly promised to legislate to protect veteran’s from malicious prosecutions.
The deal, entitled New Decade, New Approach, was reached on Friday after months of negotiations between the parties and the two governments.
It marks the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland, after three years of deadlock.
The Prime Minister said it was “an historic time for the people of Northern Ireland”.
But The Sun revealed the deal could prompt Northern Ireland officials to investigate historic cases of crimes committed during the Troubles, as the agreement promises to address “legacy issues” within 100 days.
This means thousands of veterans could be investigated and prosecuted for historic allegations of crimes committed during the period of unrest.
Senior Tories have slammed this as “totally contradictory” to what Mr Johnson promised in his leadership campaign, where he pledged to end unjust prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans.
Since then, the Prime Minister has repeatedly vowed to prevent prosecutions taking place when no new evidence has been produced and in the 2019 election manifesto he promised to alter the Human Rights Act to bring an end to “unfair trials” of soldiers.
Former Armed Forces Ministers Mark Francois said: “It is a very good thing that the Northern Ireland executive has been re-established after three years and this will in no doubt be to the advantage of the people of Northern Ireland.
JUST IN: Varadkar on brink: Irish leader agrees to snap election.. but WON’T say when it will be
“The problem with that is it would take years and anyone who serves in Northern Ireland would have a sword of Damocles hanging over them.
“It is totally contradictory to what the PM promised last year.”
The MP warned Mr Johnson that he can expect objections to be made from backbench Tories in the chamber this week, unless the Prime Minister gives the reassurance that he will protect veterans from prosecution.
A No10 source told the newspaper the deal struck with Northern Irish parties to restore power-sharing “in no way undermines what was set out in the manifesto”.