Northern Ireland’s legacy Bill ‘can be improved’, says Heaton-Harris

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A controversial government bill aimed at addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past could be reformed, the region’s new secretary of state has said.

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There is almost universal opposition to the proposed law, which would offer an effective amnesty for those accused of crimes of trouble, as long as they cooperate with a new truth recovery body.

It is also prepared to prevent future civil cases and investigations involving murders during conflict.


The Northern Ireland Troubles (Inheritance and Reconciliation) Bill has already passed through the House of Commons and is now set for consideration by the House of Lords.

Chris Heaton-Harris, who was appointed as Secretary for Northern Ireland earlier this month, said “there is no ideal solution” on the legacy.

“I know this is a bill that can be improved and so I am looking to the House of Lords to see how it can be improved,” he said.

“I know there is no ideal solution on inheritance.”

Responding to questions about how quickly he would deal with calls to start abortion services across the region and to address language rights, Mr Heaton-Harris said they would be pursued.

He said Lord Kane, the Minister for Northern Ireland’s office, had previously written to Stormont’s Health Minister Robin Swann to ask that abortion services be turned on, saying that a “follow-up” was being done.

“I will talk about it a lot in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

Mr Heaton-Harris said the Identity and Languages ​​Bill has passed through the House of Lords and is up for consideration in the House of Commons.

“So all these things will go along with (Northern Ireland) protocol,” he said.

I think I understand the politics of many of these issues much better than I used to.

He said only 44 hours had elapsed since he was appointed Secretary of State before the news of Rani’s death was announced.

“It feels like this is actually my third day in the role, but it has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of political leaders with no political agenda, and so I think I understand the politics of a lot of these issues. I am starting. I did a lot better than before,” he said.

Mr Heaton-Harris also said he was impressed by how the people of Northern Ireland had come together “in such a respectful way”.

“I think that means there’s a little bit more positivity in the conversation,” he said.


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